Gustav Klutsis, The reality of our program is living people, you and I, 1931
The reality of our program is living people, you and I (Gustav Klutsis, 1931) is an early and somewhat unusual poster in that Stalin appears to be the same size as the marching coal miners he strides alongside.Stalin frequently appeared in posters in gigantic proportions – in traditional Russian art, the relative size of a figure was commensurate with that figure’s importance or status relative to others.
According to Victoria Bonnell,* one of Klutsis’s sketches for this poster depicted Stalin as much larger than the coal miners. By ultimately choosing to depict Stalin as the same size as other people in the poster, the message is given at this time that Stalin is a leader who can still regarded as one of the people, walking alongside them in their struggles, standing in their shoes.
Although Stalin is the same size as the workers, his image is distinguished by being sharper and clearer than those of the workers, and although he wears a worker’s cap and boots, his dress is still distinct from that of the miners, with their helmets and lamps. Thus Stalin at this time is regarded as ‘first among equals’.
The caption of the poster is taken from Stalin’s speech delivered at a conference of business executives on June 23, 1931 in which he announced the recent changes in the conditions of industrialisation in the USSR.
In the speech, Stalin outlined the six new conditions of development of Soviet industry, which are given in summary form on the poster:
There are certain near-Party philistines who assert that our production program is unrealistic, that it cannot be fulfilled. They are somewhat like Shchedrin’s “sapient gudgeons” who are always ready to spread “a vacuum of ineptitude” around themselves. Is our production program realistic or not? Most certainly, it is.
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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