The Enduring Propaganda Poster

By David Michael Newstead.

I’ve always liked those old posters from the Soviet era, because they have a particular aesthetic to them and really they’ve become interesting pieces of history, visualizing the many chills and thaws of Russian relations over the years. Fortunately or unfortunately though, propaganda posters aren’t common these days. So, I had started to think that that art form had pretty much faded into obscurity.

Not the case!

A week or two ago, NPR featured a story about a poster in Moscow depicting President Obama smoking that read, “Smoking kills more people than Obama, although he kills a lot of people. Don’t smoke! Don’t be like Obama!” And political differences aside, part of me was just impressed that there was a Russian poster artist still out there. This example manages to be a couple different things at the same time – both propaganda and public service announcement. Anti-smoking and, for no particular reason, anti-American. I guess for better or worse, those pieces of history are still being churned out and the propaganda poster isn’t dead yet.

Neither is propaganda for that matter.

Anyway, if you’re like me and you find this sort of thing interesting, I created two repositories of Soviet propaganda art last year as part of a writing project I was doing. And I plan on adding to that collection whenever I come across cool posters online, including an ominous President Obama smoking a cigarette. Links are below.