Nikolai Denisov & Nina Vatolina, Long live the great invincible banner of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin! Proletarians of all countries unite!, 1941
This 1941 poster by successful graphic duo Nikolai Denisov and Nina Vatolina is part of an ongoing theme of Stalin poster that depicts the continuing lineage of great revolutionary thinkers.
Although the Great Patriotic War largely saw the revolutionary thinkers theme disappear for a period of time, there is one poster that deals with this theme from the early days of the war, carrying the slogan ‘Long live the great invincible banner of Marx–Engels–Lenin–Stalin!’. Perhaps during the war ideology took a back seat to more critical matters.
The poster is dominated by the busts of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, all gazing to the viewer’s left at the same distant point. Stalin is shown as the most recent in the lineup of giants of Marxist thought.
However, unlike Gustav Klutsis’ famous poster of 1933, Stalin is not differentiated from the other three, either in pose or manner of treatment. The diagonal line formed by the row of heads (Stalin’s head is the closest and largest, ostensibly due to perspective) is counterpoised by the diagonal of the bottom of the banner which has the words ‘Proletarians of all countries, unite!’ inscribed in small white lettering across the top.
Lenin stands at the right shoulder of Stalin, with Engels on Lenin’s right, and Marx on his right, but the poster portrays the great men as equals.
As Marx, Engels and Lenin are dead, and their writings have become dogma, the implication is that Stalin’s writings and pronouncements too are dogmatic, and a further development in the evolution of Communist thought.
While the portraits are realistic, they have a chiseled, immovable quality about them, and disappear into an uneven white wash at the bottom of the page.
In 1941, the Soviet people are being urged to place their faith in the wisdom of Stalin and in this poster Stalin has joined the Communist gods.
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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SPotW62 Pen Varlen 1942
SPotW63 Bayuskin 1942
SPotW64 Belopol'skii 1950
SPotW65 Belopol'skii 1952
SPotW66 Dlugach 1933
SPotW67 Zhitomirskii 1942
SPotW68 Toidze 1949
SPotW69 Mikhailov 1937
SPotW70 Cheprakov 1939
SPotW76 Toidze 1943
SPotW77 Futerfas 1936
SPotW78 Mukhin 1945
SPotW79 Golub' 1948
SPotW80 Karpovskii 1948