Soviet Political Posters: Art and Ideas for the Masses

W. Bruce Lincoln analyses the artwork that helped bridge the gap seperating revolutionary intellectuals in Russia, from the nation at large.

‘The political poster is a mass art form, a medium through which artists can go to the people,’ M.I. Kalinin, President of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., once wrote. In an important sense, Kalinin proposed one very important means for resolving a dilemma that had confronted revolutionary intellectuals and artists throughout the last century of Imperial Russia’s history: the question of how to bridge the cultural and intellectual gap separating them from the nation’s masses.

Ever since the reforms of Peter the Great in the early eighteenth century, an ever-widening gulf had been created which separated Russia’s intellectual elite from the masses. The elite possessed the material culture of the West and, as the eighteenth century drew to a close, they appropriated the intellectual wealth of the West as well, while the masses remained traditionally Russian.

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