Anatoli Alekseevich Kazantsev, 1917-1944. Forward, to definitive defeat of the enemy!, 1944
Anatoli Kazantsev’s 1944 poster reprises the theme of drawing a parallel between Lenin leading the people to victory in the revolution and civil war, with Stalin leading them to victory in the Great Patriotic War.
The top half of the poster, under the caption 1917, shows the ghostly head of Lenin in the sky, surrounded by images of revolution and civil war, the conspicuous use of the cavalry dating the battle. Lenin’s portion of the poster is bathed in golden light – a mythic and sacred era.
The bottom part of the poster is in the documentary shades of black-and-white, and is captioned 1944. This part of the poster too depicts a battle, but the battle is in the present, the year 1944, and helmeted soldiers surge forward with rifles, supported by tanks.
Spanning both sections of the poster is the black-and-white figure of Stalin in his Marshal’s uniform. Stalin is the bridge between the past and the present. From earlier cult-related propaganda, and the Soviet education drive, the population would be well aware that Stalin was a key figure in the revolution and the ensuing civil war victory, and also that he was the creator of the Red Cavalry.
The text of the poster urges the population ‘Forward, to the definitive defeat of the enemy!’ Stalin is not only the ‘Lenin of today’, but is also the figure of continuity, with a long history of successfully steering the people through crisis to victory.
It is significant that in this poster the text refers only to ‘the enemy’ rather than the ‘German enemy/occupiers/invaders’. In being less specific, the caption refers equally to both the past and the future.
Kazantsev, who died in 1984, mainly produced posters during the war period. He was otherwise well known as an easel and monumentalist painter and was a professor at the Vera Mukhina Arts Academy.
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.