Stenberg Brothers, Poster for 'Three million case', 1926. Courtesy GRAD Gallery for Russian Arts and Design

With the UK/Russia year of culture coming up soon, one of the events is an exciting exhibition focusing on the golden age of Soviet film posters. “Kino/Film: Soviet Posters of the Silent Screen” is a collaboration between GRAD (Gallery for Russian Arts and Design) and Antikbar, showcasing innovative film poster designs from 1920’s Soviet Union. During that decade the cinema scene flourished borne along by the revolutionary mindset of an emerging generation of artists who saw fine art as a bourgeoisie element. Film as a revolutionary art form made space for a new and radical graphic design practice in order to advertise silent films across the Soviet Union.

Aleksandr Naumov, Oil, 1927, Courtesy GRAD Gallery for Russian Arts and Design

This didn’t go unnoticed by the government. The burgeoning film industry was supported by the government who used it as a tool for propaganda measures with which to communicate with the masses. Foreign films, including those from the US, were very popular and controlled by a state organization, which had monopoly on the distribution. The profits were used to subsidize domestic film production, one that soon gained an international reputation with films such as Battleship Potemkin.

Stenberg Brothers, A Real Gentleman, 1928. Courtesy GRAD Gallery for Russian Arts and Design

Both films and also the production of film posters were controlled by the department Reklam Film. Yakov Ruklevsky as the head designer engaged a number of talented young artists. These artists created a whole new visual style for film posters, both foreign and domestic. Despite only black and white movies being shown in the 1920’s, the posters were vivid and colourful incorporating colour blocking and dynamic typography creating powerful effects.

The signature style of these posters have become art pieces in their own right, creating inspirational material for us today. A series of 30 works by Aleksandr Rodchenko, the brothers Georgii and Vladimir Stenberg, Yakov Ruklevsky, Aleksandr Naumov, Mikhail Dlugach and Nikolai Prusakov will be on display at the GRAD exhibition from the 17th of January till the 29th of March. The exhibition has been co-curated by Elena Sudakova, the director of Grad, and Lutz Becker, a film critic and art historian.

Stenberg Brothers, The screw from another machine, 1926, Courtesy Gallery for Russian Arts and Design - Copy

The exhibition will involve screenings and fragments of influential film works such as Battleship Potemkin, October and The man With The Movie Camera. With techniques such as cinematic montage, repetition, asymmetric viewpoints and dramatic foreshortenings mirrored both in the movies and posters, the exhibition is a must. The relationship between the movie director’s vision and the poster designs by artists who were engaged to promote them, is clear to see.

Stenberg Brothers, Poster for 'October', a film by Sergey Eisenstein, 1927. Courtesy GRAD Gallery for Russian Arts and Design - Copy

The Exhibition is open from 17 January to 29 March 2014.
The gallery opening hours are: Tue-Fri 11am-7pm, Sat 11am-5pm.
Address: 3-4a Little Portland Street London W1W 7JB

Credits (starting at the top):
– Stenberg Brothers, Poster for ‘Three million case’, 1926. Courtesy GRAD and AntikBar
– Aleksandr Naumov, Oil, 1927. Courtesy GRAD and AntikBar
– Stenberg Brothers,  A perfect gentleman, 1928. Courtesy GRAD and AntikBar
– Stenberg Brothers, The screw from another machine, 1926. Courtesy GRAD and AntikBar
–  Stenberg Brothers, Poster for ‘October’, a film by Sergei Eisenstein, 1927. Courtesy GRAD and AntikBar

Words by Lete Hulscher

Tags

Antikbar, Elena Sudakova, GRAD, Lete Hulscher, Lutz Becker,