Thursday, March 20, 2014

Modern/Not Modern? Art for Propaganda's Sake

Soviet textile
celebrating communal agriculture

Despite the modernist prohibition against art to glorify king and country, designers in the new Soviet Union combined modernism with imagery celebrating the revolution.

Varvara Stepanova
Initially Soviet artists like Stepanova confined the revolution to 
innovative geometries.

But as the totalitarian government dictated
that communist principles invade all aspects of life,
 fabric artists incorporated industry, agriculture and
the five-year plan into cotton prints.

Gouache design for fabric by 
Sergei Burylin  (1876-1942)

Sergei Burylin's repeat patterns
combine art deco modernism and propaganda.

Sergei Burylin 

Sergei Burylin 
Here the USSR's symbol, the Hammer and Sickle, is
the figure in what looks like an old-fashioned
shirting print.

Liubov Popova, painting for as print (gouache)

Unknown designer

Sarra Buntis, 1931

V.I. Maslov, 1925

These textiles were featured in a 2006-7 
exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Soviet Textiles: Designing the Modern Utopia
By Pamela Jill Kachurin 

Another publication: I. Yasinkaya, Soviet Textile Design of the Revolutionary Period.

Do a web search for images and the words Soviet Textile to see a display of print design.
Read more about prints as propaganda in Jacqueline Atkins's catalog Wearing Propaganda: Textiles on the Home Front in Japan, Britain, and the United States, 1931-1945

See pictures from the exhibit:


  1. A scary time to take a look at Russian nationalism and propaganda.

  2. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing.