New exhibition See USSR will aim to tell the visual story of Soviet-era tourism when it opens at Grad: Gallery for Russian Arts and Design.
While the USSR’s famous Constructivist propaganda posters tell one story, these posters advocating leisure, travel and general fun, tell an altogether different tale.
The posters were commissioned by Intourist, the organisation responsible for foreign tourism, and while they clearly present a singular perspective, it’s quite a significant one.
Many of the works are in the Art Deco style of the time and espouse a sense of freedom and invitation, while in some cases they present the USSR as a gateway to the Far East.
Of course their glossy attractiveness belies the brief of Intourist to draw in state funds needed for industrialisation.
The artists behind them include Nikolay Zhukov, Sergey Sakharov, and Maria Nesterova – who were well known at the time.
Zhukov in particular was known as a successful painter, portraitist, and illustrator whose services were in huge demand from party officials.
He went onto illustrate the full edition of Lenin’s works and won USSR state prizes for his posters.
See USSR was a slogan on posters of the time and so lends its name to the exhibition, which will also present magazines, ephemera and textiles.
Grad has commissioned artist and model maker Henry Milner to recreate the eponymous See USSR poster, designed by Nikolay Zhukov in 1930. The ‘lost artwork’ will be reprinted and sold as a limited edition print.
See USSR runs from 7 June-31 August 2013 at Grad: Gallery for Russian Arts and Design, 3-4a Little Portland Street, W1W