Socialist artist Vladimir Mayakovsky’s agitprop posters for revolutionary Russia | Dangerous Minds
Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky (1893-1930) was a poet, playwright, artist and actor. He cut a rather dashing, nay swashbuckling figure—with his shaved head and Crowleyan features—during the height of the Russian Revolution. He dressed like a dandy. He was hailed as the “artistic genius of the Revolution.” Performed poetry exhorting workers to rally to the cause. Produced plays that were considered the greatest of their day. And he created a series of agitprop posters—promoting news and political ideas—that became an art form launching a whole new approach to Soviet propaganda and graphic design.
In the 1980s, I was fortunate enough to see an exhibition of Mayakovsky’s artwork at the the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. The exhibition was dominated by his bright, colorful posters with their (often simplistic) political messages. These fragile yellowed sheets of paper had once been displayed in shop windows or distributed to the countryside to inspire the largely illiterate Russian populace.