“Die, Nazi Scum!” Soviet TASS Propaganda Posters 1941-1945, Andrew Edlin, New York

From 17 November 2011 to 14 January 2012, New York-based Andrew Edlin Gallery presents Soviet propaganda posters from the Second World War in its exhibition “Die, Nazi Scum!” Soon after the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Okna TASS studio was founded in Moscow. During the war, it produced the enormous output of 1,240 posters, equalling nearly one work per day.

This action can be traced back to a similiar one during the Russian Civil War (1917-1923) during which the Bolsheviki distributed catchy slogans and simple graphics that were suitable for viewing from distance via the Soviet news agency ROSTA1. The posters often used the traditional comic-like lubok style. They were not printed but painted by hand with stencils; when the required number of posters for Moscow had been produced, the stencils were sent to other cities. The okna ROSTA (ROSTA window) were then displayed in windows (hence the name) of train stations, kiosks, telegraph offices and shops.

Since the mid-1920s, the graphic artists Mikhail Kupriyanov (1903-1991), Porfiri Krylov (1904-1990) and Nikolai Sokolov (1903-2000) produced caricatures under the name Kukryniksy and became famous in the 1930s when they worked for the Moscow-based satirical paper Krokodil (crocodile). After the “Great Patriotic War” broke out, they founded the Okna TASS studio (in 1925, ROSTA had become TASS2). During the next years, countless painters, writers, poets and graphical artists worked there, including war poet Konstantin Simonov (1915-1979), author Samuil Yakovlevich Marshak (1897-1964) and Berlin-born Peggy Stone (1907-2009, born as Rosa Goldstein).

Okna TASS could avoid tight censorship; Soviet newspaper Pravda (truth) stated that Okna TASS “is a part of the Red Army’s military equipment alongside tanks and airplanes. We should take care of it and love it no less than our rifles or guns.” Some of the motifs were dropped over the frontlines, too – it was forbidden for German soldiers on pain of death to keep them.

The exhibition presents an interesting selection of typical motifs: the Soviet military might smashes the invader with tanks, fists, knives or molten iron, while the opponent is pictured as laughing stock or as mean and brutal animal. The graphical impact is as enormous as the use of strong colours is fascinating. Therefore, “Die, Nazi Scum!” is offering a view into one of the most productive and successful strands of war propaganda.3

On the occasion of the exhibition, a catalogue with an essay by Xenia Vytuleva has been published (30 US$).

“Die, Nazi Scum!” – Soviet TASS Propaganda Posters 1941-1945
17 November 2011 – 14 January 2012
Tu-Sa 1100-1800h
Opening: 17 November 2011, 1800-2000h

Andrew Edlin Gallery
134 Tenth Avenue
New York, NY 10011

  1. Rossiyskoye telegrafnoye agentstvo
  2. Telegrafnoje agentstwo Sowjetskogo Sojusa
  3. An interesting website about the Russian poster art is www.russianposter.ru; unfortunately, the website in Russian and German does not fully work with MS Internet Explorer.

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