Konstantin Vialov, The Party has succeeded in converting the USSR from a country of small-peasant farming into a country of the largest-scale agriculture in the world..., 1933
Konstantin Vialov (Вялов, K.), "The Party has succeeded in converting the U.S.S.R. from a country of small-peasant farming into a country of the largest-scale agriculture in the world." "In a matter of three years we have created more than 200,000 collective farms and about 5,000 state farms, i.e., we have created entirely new large enterprises which have the same importance for agriculture as large mills and factories for industry." Stalin ("Партия добилась того, что СССР уже преобразован из страны мелко-крестьянского хозяйства в страну самого крупного сельского хозяйства в мире". "В каких-нибуд три года мы создали более 200 тысяч колхозов и около 5 тысяч совхозов, т. е. Мы создали совершенно новые крупные предпрятие, имеющие такое же значение для сельского хозяйства, как заводы и фабрики для промышленности". И. Сталин), 1933
This early poster of Stalin contains a substantial slab of text, taken from Stalin's speech at the Joint Plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the CPSU (b) on January 7, 1933.
This lengthy speech, delivered in Stalin's usual style of a relentless bombardment of facts and statistics, announces the results of the first Five-Year Plan and sets the direction for the next one.
Stalin begins by listing examples of international disbelief that the Five-Year Plan could succeed. Dismissing these utterances from a bourgeois press, he then quotes from international press items that report that the plan is indeed a success.
Having concluded that the Five-Year Plan is internationally significant, Stalin then moves on to detail the plan, examining its purpose and aims, before providing exhaustive detail on the results of the plan in the spheres of industry, agriculture, improvement in conditions for the working class, trade turnover between town and country, and the struggle against the remnants of the hostile classes.
Lenin is quoted extensively to both provide direction and to provide legitimacy for actions already taken. The Five-Year Plan is deemed fulfilled in four years.
Stalin concludes by admitting to numerous mistakes and shortcomings, but choosing to focus on victories. He attributes success to "the activity and devotion, the enthusiasm and initiative of the vast masses of the workers and collective farmers, who, together with the engineering and technical forces, displayed colossal energy in developing socialist emulation and shock-brigade work", to the Soviet leadership and to the merits of the Soviet system.
Although the caption text is clearly taken from this well-known speech, and is identified as such on the poster, Stalin is not depicted as giving a speech.
Instead, his giant head (this poster is over one metre tall) captures viewers and holds them in his piercing gaze.
Behind Stalin's right shoulder (the virtuous side) are scenes of socialist success - wagons overflowing with agricultural produce being delivered to huge silos, workers filing in to commence work, and aircraft in the sky. The development of an aeronautical industry was an achievement that post-dated Lenin and hence could be counted as Stalin's own.
Aircraft, wagons and some of the workers are coloured red, designating them as sacrally socialist.
Over Stalin's left shoulder (the devil's side) are the golden onion domes of an Orthodox church beside a little timber home and bare tree. Only birds circle the domes. This inappropriate relic of the past is annihilated by a big red cross through it.
This graphic representation of right and wrong, us and them, with the legitimating presence of Stalin, ensured that those who were either unable, unwilling or perhaps too busy to read the text could still easily grasp the poster message.
The poster was created by prolific Muscovite artist Konstantin Vialov. Vialov had an amazing artistic career continuing into the mid-1970s. He was taught at GSKhM (State Free Art Studios) and VKhUTEMAS (Higher Art and Technical Studios) by Vassily Kandinsky, Vladimir Tatlin, David Shterenberg, and Aristarkh Lentulov.
Vialov's oeuvre also included film posters, magazine and book covers and illustrations, abstract paintings, Constructivist sculptures and theatrical sets. His works can still be found in major collections like that of the Tretiakov and have been featured in exhibitions in the United States and London over the past few decades. Vialov was married to fellow graphic artist Elena Mel'nikova.
Dr Anita Pisch
Anita’s new, fully illustrated book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 -1953, published by ANU Press, is available for free download here, and can also be purchased in hard copy from ANU Press.
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