Commentary

As well as bestialising the enemy (Hitler here, as a wolf), the emphasis is on strong allied action. The three sword-like rockets carrying their US, GB and USSR insignia, hit the wolf in the centre of his spine. He will no longer be able even to crawl let alone walk. His claws are bloody, a detail seen on several occasions in the poster imagery. Stalin’s words reverberate at the bottom of the poster. The poster captures the ‘fascist beast’ but Russia was two years into the war and there were still two years to go.

This is an early TASS Window from the Nottingham Collection. It is not clear why this poster has both 727 and 727a as its TASS number.

Facts

TASS window
727/727a
Created
The TASS number suggests May 1943
Artist
Kukryniksy
Writer
Quotation from Stalin’s personal Office
Original dimensions
200cm x 110cm
Collection number
MS 281/1/3

War Context

Stalin’s words prophesy the coming defeat of the enemy by the Soviet Union and her Allies. By May 1943, Stalingrad was secured, and the Soviets had to drive forward to liberate other Russian cities. The enemy was being driven out of North Africa; and it must have seemed as if the war was on the turn. By the end of summer 1943, the Red Army was pushing Germany out of their territory.

Artistic Roots

Caricaturing Hitler as a wolf may be an obvious choice, but the image in this this poster is overlain with much else. This wolf howls in pain; it has no body fat to cushion the blows from the weapons above him. The image has the cruelty of a caricature fleshed out with the lush colours of poster work. There is also a theatricality in the pose of the wolf. It is even operatic as we can almost hear his death agony.

Artist

This is the earliest work in the collection by the Kukryniksy. There are seven posters designed by this artistic collective of three. In total they contributed more than seventy posters to the series. Their striking use of colour and graphics cannot fail to attract the attention of the viewer. Do they in fact perhaps outdo the force of Stalin’s words below?

The wolf’s/Hitler’s head is raised in a howl of pain. It seems to give the poster a voice which communicates over the image and the printed words. Although represented as people, the animals are often on the verge of giving out their own sounds in the posters. Their cries of pain, fear, anger or disgust add another, unexpected layer to the richness of the work of the Kukryniksy.

Writer

A number of the posters contain lines purporting to be from Stalin, and are attributed to his personal office. His lines provide the key image to this poster: Stalin talks of the Allied defeat of the ‘fascist beast’. The presence of the Allies is strong here. Since the previous summer, there had been a press and poster campaign to publicise exactly who Russia’s allies now were. This build-up helps to explain Stalin’s direct reference to the Soviet allies in this quotation.