Soviet Posters 1917-1937

January 31st, 2002 by Adam

Revolution by Design, an exhibition of Soviet posters from the period 1917-1937, leads off a second semester of exhibitions at Plymouth State College February 6 through April 6.
<p<A reception will be held February 6 from 4:30 – 6:30 pm. in the Karl Drerup Art Gallery. The exhibition will be on campus through April 6.

One element of the Soviet propaganda effort, thousands of posters by the greatest artists of the time proclaimed the values of the prevailing political eras: the Bolshevik era (1917-1921), the New Economic policy (1921-1927), the Five Year Plan (1928-1932) and the second Five Year Plan (1932-1937).

In a brochure describing the exhibition, Clive Foss and Lim Lapides wrote, “Each [era] has its own distinct character, but each was the art of a dictatorship which exercised firm control over the minds and bodies of its population.”

Only a small number of posters from this period survived the ravages of weather, war and politics. This exhibition, curated by PSC Director of Exhibitions Catherine Amidon in conjunction with the International Poster Gallery of Boston, provides a retrospective of the surviving works. Posters by Klutsis and of Mayakovsky complement a series of works that trace the rise of constructivism and its eventual demise under Soviet socialist realism. The works tell a story of the visual arts, while tracing the political course of the new Communist government.

Amidon says the notion of art into life and the theoretical constructs behind the visual arts in the fledgling Soviet Union between 1914 and 1932 are still apparent in visual culture. The multitude of influences of Soviet design in contemporary American culture speak to the level of interest constructivism has generated. She says, “Nationally-standardized McDonalds’ interiors are the ultimate realization of Rodchenko’s ‘Workers’ Club’; revolving Hyatt restaurants a manifestation of Tatlin’s Tower (‘Model for the Monument to the Third International’) and computer graphics provide the means to finally realize Ouspensky’s theory of the fourth dimension in art.

A lecture, “Strange Bed Fellows or Old Friends? Art and Politics” will be held in the Gallery at 6:30 p.m. Monday, February 11.

For information contact the Karl Drerup Art Gallery at (603) 535-2614. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, noon – 5 p.m.; closed Sundays and holidays.