The Library

Soviet Posters

The Sergo Grigorian Collection
Maria Lafont


The Soviet Union has always been home to some of the most striking and socially-important artwork in the world, and being able to look at the Sergo Grigorian Collection that this book holds is certainly a treat. With the introduction taking up only a few pages to set the scene of the various ages of the USSR [as was], the reader is treated to a wonderful selection of posters through the 20th Century, mapping out the changes of the massive country.

From the 1917 Socialist Revolution, which used an alphabet on its posters based on colour and energy, teaching Suprematism inspired by “traditional art as well as introducing modern techniques” to the use of striking images aimed at gaining the support of the population, the majority of which was illiterate, the posters all held the same belief – that the workers were extremely important and must be loyal to the country.

Constructivist posters came about in the 1920s with the introduction of photo montage, using contrasting colours and shapes to provide a comparison of the country’s future and past. And from 1924, following Lenin’s death, the country found itself needing to uphold the man’s ideals despite him not being around to push them forward so images of industrial plants, power stations and people at work became the norm.

By 1945, the iconography had changed to the necessities of war, thanks in no small part to the leadership of Stalin though these faded into the promotion of family values once the war was over, with slogans such as “Make sure that serious boozers can’t get to your construction site” being slapped across the images.

Even if you’re not the keenest historian or Socialist, this book’s use of space, using one page for each poster, gives you an incredible array of art and colour. This is definitely a book to pick up.