GRAD: Gallery for Russian Arts and Design opens in Central London this June with See USSR, an exhibition of Russian propaganda from the 1920s and 1930s. These dazzling Intourist posters have never before been exhibited and include works loaned by the prestigious State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia.
See USSR showcases, for the first time, the captivatingly beautiful Intourist posters which were produced by a number of eminent artists, including works by Nikolay Zhukov, Sergey Sakharov, and Maria Nesterova. These stunning Art Deco posters contradict all preconceived notions of the USSR, showing the Soviet Union at rest and at play: a country of leisure, comfort and luxury.
Based in Fitzrovia, this newly opened not-for-profit gallery wishes to broaden international understanding of the extraordinarily diverse and vibrant body of material produced in Russia since the early Twentieth century. Focusing on showing the best of this sometimes neglected domain, GRAD draws on its established connections with major museums in Russia, British institutions such as The Courtauld Institute of Art and close links with celebrated artists of the period.
The gallery’s programme has a strong historical foundation, with each GRAD event enriched by stimulating events involving speakers of academic and curatorial eminence in the field.
SEE USSR deals with the flipside of Russian propaganda, showing a very different side to the country than we have accepted. This is the Soviet Union at rest and at play: a country of leisure, comfort and luxury – the USSR through the looking glass.
These images contradict the picture normally conjured up by the Western mind, transforming the communist land into a tourist haven, and showcasing pre-war So- viet Union as an earthly paradise. Refuting the widespread belief that Stalin’s Soviet Union was a country almost completely closed to foreigners, see ussr examines the advertising Intourist, the organization responsible for foreign tourism in the USSR, created in 1930s. Widening the propaganda poster’s usual remit, these dramatic images, many in the Art Deco style, were implemented not to educate the Bolshe- vik masses, but extended to foreigners in an attempt to draw in funds desperately needed for industrialisation. Demonstrating the cultural bureaucracy’s intent to restrict art to function as propaganda above all else, these compelling and beautiful graphic artworks take their place in the great legacy of Russia’s artistic history.
Complementing these unique, historical artworks, the gallery has also commissioned model-maker henry milner to reconstruct the eponymous see ussr poster, designed by Nikolay zhukov in 1930.1 This lost artwork will be published by Curwen Press and be made available as a limited edition print by the gallery.