Unidentified artist, led by Stalin – forward!, 1942
In 1942, as the USSR struggled against the German invasion during the Great Patriotic war, Goskinoizdat (Госкиноиздат: Государственное издательство кинематографической литературы – The State Publishing House of Cinematographic Literature) published a poster by an unidentified artist in an edition of 10,000 on cheap, flimsy paper.
Perhaps this poster was part of the general mobilisation of the arts community behind the war effort.
In this poster, the bust of Stalin occupies a motionless centre ground around which war preparations take place. Defenders of the USSR sprout from Stalin’s chest, and include nurses and partisans, as well as personnel of the armed forces. They stand on guard, with weapons raised and at the ready.
In the background is evidence of Soviet industrialisation, and row upon row of tanks. To the left a tank is ready to fire, while to the right banners fly.
The only touch of colour in the black-and-white photomontage poster are the two banners at the top, displaying the red star and the hammer and sickle, and the text box at the base.
The text reads ‘Led by Stalin – forward!’ and the implication is that the forces of the USSR are united in an impenetrable front, the foundation of which is Stalin himself.
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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