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Unknown artist, circa 1925. What a stunning image. This poster recalls the St. Petersburg massacre of 1905 when police opened fire on marching workers — Bloody Sunday.

As a child, I was taught to fear Soviet Russia. Everyone has heard the stories of how we 1950’s kids had to participate in drills, where we were made to get on the floor and huddle under our desks. Because doing that would save our lives during a Soviet-launched nuclear attack, which was always just moments away.

Seattle, WA’s Frye Art Museum, “the free art museum”, is presenting an amazing exhibit of Soviet “propaganda” posters through April 3, 2016. The posters date back quite a bit before the 50’s. Most were made in the 1920’s. I visited the museum and photographed every poster. Several were quite striking. These particular posters are a set of reproductions printed in 1967. I’m posting them here “in case you missed it”, and because Frye art allows photography. — That in addition to offering free admission.

Charles Frye (1858–1940) and his wife Emma (1860-1934) moved from Iowa to Seattle, in 1888. He established a huge meat packing business, and accumulated great wealth. The Fryes became avid collectors and patrons of the arts. Their collection became the founding collection of the Frye Art Museum, which opened on February 8, 1952. They endowed the museum with sufficient funding so that it would always be free to the public.

With four exceptions, I’m not going to critique the posters, try to interpret their meaning here or comment about them. I’m simply going to document the exhibit by displaying my photos of the posters, with artist’s names, if known, and the dates the posters were created. In several cases, the artists’ names are not known. I hope you enjoy viewing the posters. My feeling is: this exhibit is too amazing not to be shared. And thanks to The Frye, I am sharing.

I couldn’t really set up my shots; I just quickly took them. The museum was crowded and I needed to stay out of the way of other visitors. This post isn’t about my photography skills!

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Dimitry Moor, 1918.

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Unknown artist, 1919.

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Vladimir Fidman, 1919.

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Unknown artist, no date given.

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Vladimir Lebedev, 1920.

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Unknown artist, no date given.

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Sergei Ivanov, 1920. The imagery depicted in this poster is literally fantastic.

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El Lissitzky, no date given. This one blew my mind. It’s title is “Hit The Whites With The Red Wedge”, aka “Beat The Whites With The Red Wedge”. The red wedge represents the Bolsheviks; the White Movement was the anti-Communist forces. Today, this work is considered to be abstract art.

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Dimitry Moor, 1920.

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Dimitry Moor, 1920.

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Dimitry Moor, 1920.

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Unknown artist, 1920.

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Nikolai Kochergin, 1920.

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Dimitry Moor, 1920.

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Alexander Apsit, 1919.

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Alexander Apsit, no date given.

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Dimitry Moor, 1920.

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Vladimir Mayakovsky, 1919, 1920.

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Unknown artist, 1917-1920. A version of St. George slaying the dragon.

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Sergei Ivanov, 1920.

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Nikolai Valaranov (sp?), no date given.

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Unknown artist, 1920.

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Dimitry Moor, 1921.

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Viktor Deni, 1920.

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Unknown artist, no date given.

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Unknown artist, 1923.

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Alexander Rodchenko, no date given.* I love the imagery here, which promotes literacy (“Books, Please!).

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Aleksandr Tyshler, circa 1920.

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Viktor Deni, no date given.

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Alexander Samokhvalov, no date given.

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*While the Frye gives no date, my Hungarian surrogate nephew, Peter Garami, lists the date as 1925. Since Peter has never steered me wrong, I am going with that.

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Detail of exhibit signage.

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I shot this in the Frye’s main gallery. Paintings from Mr. and Mrs. Frye’s collection are exhibited in this room. I have a feeling they would not have approved of the Soviet posters.

Go here for more information on the history of the Frye Art Museum: http://fryemuseum.org/history/

To view many more posters, including some of a newer vintage, see Brown University’s post: http://library.brown.edu/cds/Views_and_Reviews/medium_lists/posters.html

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