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The line-up: Soviet silent-film posters
The 1920s were a shining era for the Soviet film industry, led by acclaimed directors such as Sergei Eisenstein, who helmed the masterful Battleship Potemkin and October. This fertile period also fed radical ideas in graphic film poster design. The state-controlled distributor Sovkino had a subdivision, Reklam Film, which designed posters for films across the Soviet Union. Tens of thousands were printed for each picture, and plastered over cities as mass marketing.
A forthcoming exhibition, “Kino/Film: Soviet Posters of the Silent Screen”, at the privately funded Gallery for Russian Arts and Design (Grad), which opened in London last June, celebrates the key exponents of this art. With original lithographs by brothers Georgii and Vladimir Stenberg, Yakov Ruklevsky, Reklam’s chief Aleksandr Naumov, Mikhail Dlugach and Nikolai Prusakov, the exhibition also incorporates film screenings and excerpts to show how cinematic technique – such as montage, repetition and “dramatic foreshortenings” – were borrowed by the poster makers.
Not many of these posters are left, and most are consequently highly valuable and imperfectly preserved. As Elena Sudakova, director of Grad and co-curator of the show, also explains, the years of disarray that followed the revolution created a great number of orphans, many of whom peeled the posters from city walls at night to wrap themselves in for warmth.
‘Kino/Film: Soviet Posters of the Silent Screen’ is at Grad from January 17 to March 29, grad-london.com