Friday, September 25, 2015

Space will be ours! Golden Collection of Soviet space posters.

Space will be ours! Golden Collection of Soviet space posters,
Moscow, CONTACT-CULTURE Publishing House, 2012

I received this collection from my colleague, Professor Inessa B. Kozlovskaya of the Institute of Medico-Biological Problems, of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. IMBP is the counterpart of of NASA Human Research Program so we have a lot of interactions. Inessa is much, much better at choosing gifts than I am, and never arrives empty-handed.

Posters and slogans reproduced here from the commemorative folder. My comments are at the bottom of the post. 

1957. V. Viktorov. The greatest victory of Soviet science and technology. 
1959. V. Viktorov. Creative resources of Socialism are boundless!

1960. L. Golovanov. Let's conquer Space! 

1960. K. Ivanov. The way is open for a human being!

1960. V. Viktorov. We are born to make dreams come true!

1961. E. Soloviov. For the glory of Communism!

1961. V. Volikov. Long live Soviet science. Long live the Soviet man--the first astronaut!

1961. V. Viktorov. Long live the first astronaut Yu. A. Gagarin!

1961. B. Berezovskii. Long live the son of the Communist party!

1961. B. Staris. The dreams came true on 12 April.

1961. N. Smolyak. We'll pave the way to distant worlds  And get into the mysteries of the Universe!

1962. M. Soloviov. A Soviet citizen, be proud - / The way to distant stars is discovered!

1962. B. Berezovskii. Long live the Communist Party of the Soviet Union!

1962. V. Volikov. Long live the Soviet people--the Space pioneers!

1962. V. Viktorov. Long live courage, labor and intellect of the Soviet people!

1962. V. Viktorov. Socialism is our launching pad.

1963. Yu. Kershin. Long live the first woman cosmonaut!

1963. V. Viktorov. Our triumph in Space is the hymn to the Soviet country!

1963. A. Vinokurov. The distance to even the furthest planet is not that long, folks!
1964. Yu. Kershin and V. Trukhachev. Long live the USSR--the birth-place of Space exploration!

1965. V. Ivanov. In the name of peace and progress!

1968. G. Illarionov. Being long for the future is our life!

1970. V. Viktorov. Sputnik of friendship and co-operation.

1971. A. Yakushin. Space is going to serve people!

1982. M. Getman. We are creative and friendly and clever / We're making space to be peaceful forever!

The posters track the latest space victories, with greatest emphasis in 1961, the year of the flight of Gagarin.

1957: 1     1959: 1     1960: 3     1961: 6     1962: 5     1963: 3
1964: 1     1965: 1     1968: 1     1970: 1     1971: 1     1982: 1

Based on year of publication, it looks like official space enthusiasm peaked in 1961-1962. (Not considering any selection bias in producing this Golden Collection--who knows how many posters were actually printed, and why these were chosen.)

V. Viktorov is the most popular artist in this collection, and had the longest career as measured by selected artworks (again, neglecting selection bias).
Viktorov 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962 x 2, 1963, 1970
Berezovskii 1961, 1962    Ivanov 1960, 1965    Volikov 1961, 1962
Getman 1982     Golovanov 1960     Illiarnov 1968     Kershin 1963
Kershin & Trukhachev 1964     Smolyak 1961     Soloviov E 1961   Soloviov M 1962    Staris 1961    Vinokurov 1963    Yakushi 1971

General themes from 1957 to 1964 seem to be about the glory of Socialism and the Soviet People. Thereafter they are more generic and seem focused on peace, knowledge and prosperity. I was particularly struck by the poster from 1971: "Space is going to serve people." That was the year when the Soviet program began flying Salyut space stations with earth benefits as the primary goal, to replace the failed manned lunar program. Ironically, the first successful Salyut mission in 1971 ended with the deaths of its crewmen during the landing process.

The message on Vinokurov's 1963 poster, "The distance to even the furthest planet is not that long, folks!" seems to be chiding the Soviet populace to quit worrying that space is too big, when in fact, space is the biggest thing there is. I wonder what general mood this was intended to address.

The last poster in the series, by Getman in 1982, has the slogan: "We are creative and friendly and clever / We're making space to be peaceful forever!" This bears an unfortunate resemblance to the catchphrase of Al Franken's Stuart Smalley character on Saturday Night Live in 1991: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"

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