Tuesday, April 24, 2012

TASS Window #850

In 1941 a group of Soviet writers and artists founded the TASS News Agency to create large-scale war-themed propaganda posters called “TASS Windows.” Over the next four years, the studio would create over 1,240 designs executed as multi-paneled stenciled screenprints. These posters were hung in windows across the Soviet Union, bringing fresh (and slanted) news and views of the Eastern front during World War II. Many of these posters were also sent to the US and Great Britain by the Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (VOKS), which was designed to build support for the war, but they were little studied (with few resources in English) until the exhibition Windows on the War: Soviet TASS Posters at Home and Abroad, 1941-1945 mounted by the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011. This exhibition presented new scholarship in English on this fascinating aspect of Soviet poster production. TASS posters were designed to be eye-catching and memorable, using humorous caricatures, painterly hand-cut stencils, and saturated colors.

Pyshki i Shiski (Pastry and Bruises) TASS Window #850 was designed by three artists known collectively as “Kukryniksy” (Mikhail Kupriyanov, Porfiri Krylov, and Nikolai Sokolov).

This poster was purchased for the SCMA collection in the wake of the exhibition Godless Communists: Soviet Anti-Religious Propaganda which focused on a little-known group of Soviet anti-religious posters which entered the collection in 1968. The exhibition also expanded our understanding of how propaganda posters can provide an unusually rich field for interdisciplinary investigation. 

The image in Pyshki I Shiski is a graphic rendering of a section of a speech delivered by Josef Stalin on November 6, 1943, in which he proclaimed:

“Entering the war, the members of Hitler's bloc counted on a rapid victory. They divided the spoils in advance: who would get the pies and pastries, and who gets the bumps and bruises. Understandably, the bruises and the bumps were intended for their enemies, and the pies and pastries for themselves.

[Inscribed on the pastries in the picture are: "The Caucasus; Africa; Transylvania, the Kuban'; Moscow"]

But now it is clear that Germany and her lackeys will not get the pies and pastries; instead, they will have to divide the bumps and the bruises among themselves.”

Kukryniksy (Mikhail Kupriyanov, Porfiri Krylov, and Nikolai Sokolov). Pyshki i Shiski (Pastry and Bruises), 1943. Screenprint in color on paper. Purchased with the Elizabeth Halsey Dock, class of 1933, Fund

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