Published on February 26, 2014 | by Louise Baxter0
Exhibition review: Soviet Posters of the Silent Screen
Tucked away at the bottom of Little Portland Street sits the Gallery for Russian Arts and Design (GRAD).
Its unassuming exterior downplays the selection of Russian art from the past and present that can be found in this quiet little gallery.
To celebrate the UK-Russia Year of Culture, Elena Sudakova, GRAD’s director and film critic, and art historian Lutz Becker have put together an exciting retrospective of the golden age of Soviet film, focussing on the film’s posters in particular.
The gallery showcases a collection of the best of 1920s USSR movie posters, ranging from the brothers Georgii and Vladimir Stenberg’s work to Mikhail Dlugach, Yakov Ruklevsky and Nikolai Prusakov’s illustrations.
’20s Russia saw the rise of a new, more radical graphic design, created to advertise silent films across the Soviet Union.
Although each poster is unique, the designs have parallelisms and similarities that can be seen across the exhibition – whether depicting the resentful eyes of a betrayed woman or the cadenced movement of soldiers at war.
Artistically, the lines are sharp and the colours are striking, with heavy contour and shadows making for a very dramatic results.
Some of these posters appear reminiscent of of the style of ’20s Hollywood, and with the primary objective of these movie posters being to challenge the growing popularity of American films in the USSR, it is clear to see why the similarities are so obvious.
The Soviet posters are, however, somehow darker and very representative of the tumultuous time facing the USSR; deeply patriotic with recurring themes including communism and a growing industrialisation.
Alongside the posters are excerpts from the films they depict, highlighting the innovative techniques that were adopted by filmmakers and designers during this era.
This exhibition allows you a rare glimpse into the seminal films of this time. It is concise and intimately offers a good overview of the Russian graphic arts.
The Soviet Posters will be on display at the Gallery for Russian Arts and Design (GRAD) until March 29 2014