PROLETKULT - CULTURE FOR THE WORKING MAN

To mark the centenary of the Russian revolution, Modern Folk presents PROLETKULT, an exhibition of original Soviet-era posters and folk art. The vintage posters are priced from just £50 (£80 framed), and they include iconic images of Lenin and the revolution.

 

As soon as they seized power, the Soviets began using visual culture as a tool to educate and inspire. Communism was a revolutionary new way of governing, and it needed a means of expression that was just as radical. The government was looking for a new ‘PROLETKULT,’ or proletarian culture – something fresh and new, but not intimidatingly avant-garde., which was fresh and new but not intimidatingly avant-garde.

  

State sponsored artists developed Socialist Realism, a genre that combined striking modern design with realistic, figurative imagery. The government released countless posters in this style, depicting the glories of the revolution or illustrating the social and technical advances of the Communist regime. They featured wholesome Leninist teens and brave soldiers, alongside factories, agriculture and even spacecraft. The exhibition includes a group of posters issued to artists working on state commissions. Each one combines multiple images and motifs, juxtaposing grand state buildings with Communist symbols and pictures of new technology.  

 

The exhibition will also feature handicraft items, including vintage pieces made in the Communist era. The USSR was keen to support craftsmen making traditional folk products, which were also seen as an example of working-class culture, or PROLETKULT. The government organised maker’s cooperatives, offered development loans for new equipment and staged exhibitions. The unique folk traditions of each country was celebrated as part of a united Soviet state.

 

Kitty Walsh