Deni provides brilliantly drawn close-ups of Hitler in his graphic work for the printed posters. He never worked, as far as we know, for the TASS windows series. This striking print places Hitler exactly where the Russian viewer wanted him, under intense pressure and close to despair.
The stark and controlled use of colour enhances Hitler’s incipient lack of control over his forces’ progress during the war. The choice of image also implies that Hitler is not a commander to lead in the mud of the field. He depends on dispatches from his generals. His hand, you will note, is exceptionally clean and untouched.
During 1944 the Red Army was moving inexorably, if sometimes slowly and painfully, against the enemy forces and driving them back. In the process they broke through the lines and the trenches, and in effect ‘trampled over’ the enemy defences as the quotation from a dispatch from the front implies.
Given the general date of 1944 rather than a precise day and month, this printed poster was meant for long-term display and to report a generalised situation.
Deni worked principally in the printed posters. His work was assured a big print run and longer display so his images are regarded as formative on poster design in general. His skills as a strong propagandist were widely recognised.
There are 4 prints by him, all from 1944, in the Nottingham collection (Hitler in Bandages; To The East To The West; To the Judgement of the whole world). They bear the hallmarks of his work as a political cartoonist, his work on the ROSTA windows just after the revolution, and his continuing career as a poster artist during 1920s and 30s. The Kukryniksy collective among the TASS Window artists is probably the closest to him in style (see, for example, TASS 993; TASS 1079).
Deni employs superb graphic and satirical skills in this print. Hitler’s intense frustration and fear are both impressively caught. In the style of the comic strip, this image applies a humorous edge to Hitler’s evident discomfort. The economy of colour allows the graphics of caricature to have maximum effect.
There is some homage to Japanese design in the placing of the signature and in the devices used. The swastika is powerful. It functions as a foregrounding device to catch the eye. It then leads the spectator towards Hitler’s bulging eyes to the left.
Deni’s printed posters cite editors rather than writers for the text, so a single writer cannot be identified. However, the use of words is particularly striking in this poster. The newspaper header reads: ‘Dispatches from the Front’. The text above Hitler’s head, from one of the dispatches, reports that nothing holds the Red Army back: they are trampling everywhere.
Deni’s name in red echoes the news of soviet success implied in the lines above, and the use of handwriting personalises these lines to the artist. Placing himself in this way behind the red line, in particular, Deni is able to signal continuing Red Army progress as the crucial propaganda item behind this poster.