N. Petrov and Konstantin Ivanov, Glory to great Stalin, the architect of Communism!, 1952
This poster by N. Petrov and Konstantin Ivanov was published in 1952 and carries the same slogan as the 1951 poster by Boris Belopol’skii on the same theme.
Unlike the earlier poster, which was in full colour and employed a graphic portrait of Stalin in front of a huge hydroelectric station, this 1952 poster uses black-and-white photography as a means of documentary evidence of the progress of Soviet society.
Stalin is superimposed in front of a view of Moscow and is looking up the Volga River. The city appears to be bustling with pedestrians, cars and river traffic, and is bathed in a white light which also shines on Stalin from above.
Stalin looks out of the picture, this time to the viewer’s left, which is usually associated with the past, and suggests that Stalin is surveying what has already been achieved.
The poster plays on the two levels of meaning of the architect symbol. Stalin is literally shown as responsible for the planning and rebuilding of Moscow, which commenced in 1935, but he is also responsible for planning and building the new communist society.
As Robert Tucker notes:
Moscow was seen as a symbol for the whole federation, her transformation a metaphor for the moral and political transformation of the whole of Soviet society.
Katerina Clark points out that, although only parts of Moscow were rebuilt, Moscow was usually represented as being totally rebuilt, and photographs of models were often presented to the public (as in the case of the Palace of Soviets) as if the new buildings already existed.**
Moscow was also represented — in Stalin’s ‘Greetings on her 800th anniversary’ in 1947, for example — as a sort of symbolic saviour of the West, having liberated the West from the Tartar yoke, repulsed the Polish–Lithuanian invasion in the Time of Troubles, repelled Napoleon in 1812, and won the Great Patriotic War against the fascists.
*Robert C. Tucker, ‘Stalin and the Uses of Psychology,’ World Politics, Vol.8, No.4, 1956, pp. 455-83, p. 461.
**Katerina Clark, ‘Eisenstein’s Two Projects for a Film about Moscow,’ The Modern Language Review, Vol. 101, No. 1, Jan., 2006, pp. 184-200, p. 186.
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.