The art of repetition: Soviet-era posters


An exhibition of iconic Soviet-era posters for iconic Soviet-era silent films go on display in London this January, produced using a combination of painterly technique and bold, graphic typography


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Post-revolutionary Russia was a bubbling melting pot of creativity, until the lid of Stalinism slammed down. Then in its infancy, film was the perfect new medium with few preconceptions on content and the ability to reach mass audiences, and to this day many of the Russian silent films of the Twenties are still lauded. Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, is one of the most famous and often imitated.

Stenberg brothers, October, 1927 Courtesy of GRAD gallery for Russian arts and design and AntikBar

Stenberg brothers, October, 1927 Courtesy of GRAD gallery for Russian arts and design and AntikBar

Stenberg brothers, Three Million Case, 1926 Courtesy of GRAD gallery for Russian arts and design and AntikBar

Stenberg brothers, Three Million Case, 1926 Courtesy of GRAD gallery for Russian arts and design and AntikBar

Aleksander Naumov, oil, 1927 Courtesy of GRAD gallery for Russian arts and design and AntikBar

Aleksander Naumov, oil, 1927 Courtesy of GRAD gallery for Russian arts and design and AntikBar

This period also saw the first documentary, Dziga Vertov's The Man with a Movie Camera, which British minimalist composer Michael Nyman remade as a scene-for-scene modern version, adding a new musical score. Much of the power of Vertov's film comes from its age coupled with the then-unique process of documenting the everyday, so Nyman's slightly bland, self-referential movie may also improve with age.

Stenberg brothers, A Perfect Gentleman, 1928 Courtesy of GRAD gallery for Russian arts and design and AntikBar

Stenberg brothers, A Perfect Gentleman, 1928 Courtesy of GRAD gallery for Russian arts and design and AntikBar

Stenberg brothers, Death Loop, 1929 Courtesy of GRAD gallery for Russian arts and design and AntikBar

Stenberg brothers, Death Loop, 1929 Courtesy of GRAD gallery for Russian arts and design and AntikBar

Stenberg brothers, Sporting Fever, 1928 Courtesy of GRAD gallery for Russian arts and design and AntikBar

Stenberg brothers, Sporting Fever, 1928 Courtesy of GRAD gallery for Russian arts and design and AntikBar

These original Soviet films were promoted with mass-produced posters by equally talented artists, including Aleksandr Rodchenko, brothers Georgii and Vladimir Stenberg (responsible for seven of the images here), Yakov Ruklevsky, Aleksander Naumov Mikhail Dlugach and Nikolai Prusakov. A selection of these are now on display -- many for the first time in the UK -- at GRAD (Gallery for Russian Arts and Design) in London, in a show celebrating 2014 as the UK/Russia year of culture. During the exhibition, there will also be screenings of excerpts from Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin and October, and Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera.

Stenberg brothers, The Screw from another Machine, 1926 Courtesy of GRAD gallery for Russian arts and design and AntikBar

Stenberg brothers, The Screw from another Machine, 1926 Courtesy of GRAD gallery for Russian arts and design and AntikBar

Kino/Film: Soviet Posters of the Silent Screen, 17 January-29 March, GRAD, London W1

 

Read author Philip Pullman on a book of Soviet-era illustrations.

 





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