Soviet Poster Art
The 1920s was a golden era for Russian art, not least
graphic art. The Russian avant-garde flourished, putting their mark on society
and inspiring artists throughout the world. Film posters was the main genre of 1920s
Soviet poster art and the major names are Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg, whose father
was a Swedish decorative painter who arrived in Russia at the end of the 19th
century and married a Latvian woman.
The majority of the artists represented in the
exhibition were not primarily poster makers, but rather poets, painters or
photographers. However, poster art was the medium above all others during the
first decade of the Soviet Union and attracted major contemporary artists. The
Stenberg brothers also worked with other artistic genres, mainly theatre stage
design, but it was with poster art that they made a name for themselves. From 1924
and onwards, they produced some 300 film posters, characterised by an
innovative idiom that differentiated itself from that of their international colleagues.
At the turn of the 21st century, Swedish documentary
filmmaker Michael Stenberg became involved in an attempt to trace the father of
the Stenberg brothers who had abandoned his family and returned to Sweden. In
connection with his research, Michael Stenberg learned that many of the
original Stenberg brothers’ posters were located in Japan, in the collection of
the graphic and fashion designer and inveterate collector Ruki Matsumoto. Some
years later he met Matsumoto whose gigantic collection comprised 20,000 posters.
Unfortunately, Ruki Matsumoto suffered a stroke and passed
away before a project to make a documentary film about him and his collection
got off the ground. One of Matsumoto’s last wishes was that his collection
should remain intact and be displayed for art and graphic enthusiasts throughout
the world. The exhibition at Liljevalchs is a contribution in realising his
The exhibition is largely devoted to expressive film posters from the 1920s,
by the Stenberg brothers and other masters of the genre. One gallery is dedicated
to El Lissitzky, one of the major graphic artists
of the time. In two smaller galleries propaganda posters with texts by Vladimir
Mayakovsky are on display.
Stage designers Ulla Kassius and Moa Möller have transformed Gallery 1 into an
elegant cinema where visitors can sit comfortably in the armchairs and watch Dziga
Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera, a technically
advanced 1929 avant-garde film that will be screened nonstop accompanied by
newly-composed music by the British band In
In conjunction with the exhibition, a series of
seminars discussing and highlighting subjects such as cinema in the interests
of politics, the intense artistic enthusiasm during the time of the revolution
and the possible connection between agitprop and today’s troll factories.
In addition, Cinemateket will screen ten silent films
from the 1920s by major Soviet directors, including Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga
Vertov. Accompanied by live music, the films will be screened in the Bio Victor
cinema at Filmhuset, Stockholm. The series commences on 1 November.