Commentary

This print dates from late 1944 when the war had turned in USSR’s favour. Prints were published to make the most of Hitler as a hate figure. Where the TASS windows had runs of 500, printed posters could be made in thousands and distributed on a wider network.They were less tied to a particular date, and lasted longer in the places where they were displayed.

The graphic artist Deni had already made his reputation in the print world before WW2 as a leading artist of the printed political poster. The role of such posters was immense in disseminating government viewpoints in an entertaining and visually effective way.

Facts

Printed poster
Date created
15 November 1944
Artist
Viktor Deni
Printer
‘Iskusstvo’ (Art), Moscow and Leningrad
Writer
E. Povolotskaia
Original dimensions
59cm x 38cm
Collection number
MS 281/2/1

War Context

The words on his head bandage are ‘Caucasian oil’. On his nose they read ‘Coal from the Donbass’, and on his gag ‘Ukrainian wheat’. These are the natural resources and commodities Hitler had sought to gain by his invasion of USSR. Now being driven out of Russia the broken German army could no longer rely on looted supplies.

Artistic Roots

Deni’s experience as satirist and skilled graphic artist are much in evidence in this print. The enlarged and damaged head and shoulders, with a crutch just visible, expertly positioned in the frame come from cartoon narrative of the popular print and earlier decades of Soviet satire.

The heavy black frame with his signature inset in red was Deni’s trademark. It announced his politics as much as his authorship. Aesthetically, the fame and signature owe not a little to the Japanese graphic art of the previous century and the decades before the Revolution. Japanese prints had flooded the market in this period.

Artist

Deni is noted for his comic-book, harsh style, best presented in the printed poster format. Reducing Hitler to an invalid wrapped in bandages and using a crutch is the belittling function of this poster. Hitler is immediately recognisable by his hair, his elongated nose and his swastika badges.

Hitler is skeletal, and the poster’s colours are gothic. Both these elements bring in a macabre touch, sending shivers down the spine as well as a thrill at the decay of it all.

See the other three Deni posters in the collection: To The East To The West, Despatches from the Front, To the Judgement of the whole world.

Writer

Povolotskaia provided stark words to reflect the drawing. Rather a subtitle than a verse, the lines nevertheless have rhyme and rhythm. The connection between artist and writer is concentrated and taut. Her meaning is that Hitler came looting, but is now near death himself.