Soviet Life Seen through Propaganda Posters from the Wright Museum
Greta Terfruchte ’21, Bloomington, Illinois
Majors: Russian; Comparative Literature
The Soviet Union employed propaganda as a means of education in order to inculcate into the masses the ideas that would shape the next generation of new Soviet men and women. Though the effectivity of the propaganda poster as a persuasive tool is dubious, the posters remain informative to a 21st century viewer curious about what was valued in Soviet society and what that society expected from its citizens–not to mention that the works themselves are fascinating, funny, and aesthetically compelling.
Over the last two semesters I have worked on cataloguing three sets of Soviet propaganda posters belonging to the Wright Museum of Art. The cataloguing process has involved translating the posters, composing a concise commentary of each poster to aid the viewer, and writing a short introductory essay for each set explaining its context. All three sets of posters are from the 1970s period and each set centers on a different theme. The propaganda posters in the first set criticize religion in order to promote the Soviet concept of “scientific atheism.” The second set portrays the ills of capitalism, arguing the superiority of the Soviet model. The third set advocates environmentalism, showing the benefit of eco-consciousness for the environment as well as the individual. Many of these works comment, explicitly or implicitly, on the relationship of the Soviet Union with the West.