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Showing posts from 2011

С Новым Годом!

The annual New Year's Krokodil cover from 1951.

Hitler satire in Ukraine

A Hitler billboard, protesting about a Stalin statue, in Ukraine. Not caricature, but interesting satire.

Post-election use of caricature in Putin fight-back

Very interesting article on Time Magazine's website including a reference to a deck of cards, produced by the Kremlin, with caricatures of the opposition leaders on the Jokers. Fascinating retaliatory use, creating a caricature war. I'd quite like a set of these cards, but in the meantime, there are some great images online.

These decks of cards have been handed out to supporters, turned into sandwich boards and worn around Moscow, turned into placards and taken on rallies, and now posted online.

Images via:
Very interesting phenomenon. Comes so close to Putin's accusations of US meddling in Russian elections, for one thing. For another thing, the caricatures are satirical, but not as biting as some of the anti-Putin imagery (not that they were especially vicious, especially compared with Krokodil). There are a large number of references to Russian/Soviet historical personalities in these images, which would be fascinating to …

More modern Russian humour

Since Vladimir Putin's announcement that he will attempt to reclaim the Russian Presidency, a wave of satirical comment has swept the internet. Central to this development have been certain images, inspired by rumours of Putin's admiration for Brezhnev, and by a feeling that Russia might enter a period of Brezhnevian stagnation if Putin were to be re-elected as President.

Deineka Exhibition

There seems to be a fair bit of interest around Aleksandr Deineka (1899-1969) at the moment. There was an exhibition at the Tretiakov in 2009, another exhibition in Rome in early 2011, and now another in Madrid. There were rumours that a Deineka show might go to the Tate.

Deineka at the Tretiakov, 2010.

Krokodil Banners

Krokodil front page title banners, 1922-1991

What makes a cartoon attractive?

What is it which makes a cartoon interesting and attractive to a viewer?

Cartoons, like any other piece of artwork, have to appeal aesthetically, but they are often (I'm thinking of cartoons by people like Gerald Scarfe) hideously unattractive.

Newspaper or editorial cartoons must also communicate a particular political opinion swiftly and unequivocally. Quite often, these political opinions refer to several different themes simultaneously.

These images come from New Zealand newspapers, published in mid-October 2011, at the time of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in NZ, a major maritime disaster involving a large container ship called the Rena which spilled oil onto NZ beaches, and the beginning of the general election campaign. The media followed every Rugby World Cup story (including injuries to key NZ All Blacks players) but other news items (including the Rena oil spill) were less thoroughly covered. Was this a manifestation of media obsession, genuine interest and national will, pol…

Oi You!

I recently visited Oi You! The Best of Urban Art from NZ and Around the World, in Nelson, NZ. This is relatively small exhibition, held in very pleasant surroundings. The gallery space, though not well lit, was appropriate and contributed something (albeit a little cliched) to the environment and the appreciation of the artworks. The show included three different collections, which broadened the appeal of the exhibition. Best of the World was undoubtedly the crowd-puller, and provided the most impressive works by far, but the pieces by Milton Springsteen (the unknown NZ artist working under a pseudonym) provided a pleasant surprise element of home interest. Never having seen much of Banksy before, I was really curious about his work. The quality of his work, in comparison with most of the rest of the work in the show, was very obvious. I'm still not entirely sure what it was which elevated his pieces above most of the others, however. His ideas were not more complex or sophisticat…

The name 'Krokodil'

I have not been able to find out definitively why the magazine was named 'Krokodil' in the first place. The theory most commonly propounded is that it derives from the crocodile in the story by Kornei Chukovsky (1916). I have no reason to disbelieve this, but another story named after, and about, a crocodile was written by Dostoevsky in 1865. The logical place to look for an authoritative explanation would be the first issues of the magazine, but they are extremely rare and I haven't seen an original - only excerpts quoted elsewhere. In one of these quotes, in a poem by Demian Bednyi, the magazine is named as 'the red crocodile' which identifies the magazine with the animalistic logo/character, but I wonder if any of the readers of this blog can answer this question?

Views and Re-Views: Soviet Political Posters and Cartoons

This is a very interesting website based on an exhibition which includes some fascinating Soviet cartoon resources.

THE KUKRYNIKSY (MIKHAIL KUPRIANOV, PORFIRY KRYLOV, and NIKOLAI SOKOLOV) Russian: 1903-1991, 1902-1990, and 1903-, respectively Platform for Nuclear Hysteria 1966 Ink and collage on cardboard 15.6 x 12.7

Крокодил in fiction and memoirs

Крокодил appears in some Soviet fiction and several memoirs. It is mentioned, for example, in Ch.14 of Ehrenburg's 'The Thaw', Margaret Harrison's 'Marooned in Moscow', and Donald J. Raleigh's 'Russia's Sputnik Generation'. Understanding the way Крокодил features in fiction and memoirs helps to provide a broader understanding of its cultural significance. Can anyone suggest other fictional works or memoirs in which Крокодил is mentioned?

There are lists of memoirs here and here - these works may have references to Krokodil but I have not yet read many of them.

Boris Efimov, 'For Enduring Peace', 1950

I recently purchased a copy of this book. There are some familiar images in it, and it is a fantastic resource.

The book is a collection of around 50 cartoon images.
The depiction of Winston Churchill in Efimov's 1950s cartoons is an interesting aspect of his work. Perhaps Churchill serves as an individual symbol of aggression and suspicion, rather than the personification of British foreign policy? Other representations of Britain dwindle (John Bull, a British lion, for example).
This picture, of Boris Efimov and his son, reading the book after its publication in 1950, appears in Efimov's autobiography.

Stalin in cartoons.

Russian exhibition of Stalin cartoons.

Mikhail Zlatkovsky, 18 Dec 2009

Karikatura na sluzhbe so︠t︡sialisticheskogo stroitelʹstva : katalog vystavki / vstupitelʹnye statʹi M.Z. Manuilʹskogo i B.M. Nikiforova :: Rare Books Published in Imperial and early Soviet Russia

Fascinating catalogue on the significance of caricature and cartoons to building the socialist project in the eraly USSR, digitised and available for free online!

Karikatura na sluzhbe so︠t︡sialisticheskogo stroitelʹstva : katalog vystavki / vstupitelʹnye statʹi M.Z. Manuilʹskogo i B.M. Nikiforova :: Rare Books Published in Imperial and early Soviet Russia

Images of Peace and Nuclear War

Very interesting article on Soviet attitudes to, and representations of, the USA during the Cold War. This is a central theme in Krokodil during the period 1945-1990, and it was the stimulus for most of the academic and/or popular studies of the magazine, but it's a subject which now seems to be getting the revisions it deserves.

Dieselpunk: The Flying Crocodile

The USSR sponsored a squadron of propaganda aircraft which toured the country. Often they visited major cities, but they also visited areas affected by famine in the early 1930s. Some of the aircraft were named after Soviet news publications, and here is the aircraft named after Krokodil.

What I don't know is whether the publications in question actually sponsored the aircraft, but the decoration of this ANT-9 suggests perhaps they did.

Dieselpunk: The Flying Crocodile: "A Tupolev ANT-9 trimotor used in 1930s by the Soviet propaganda squadron. Named after the Krokodil (Crocodile) satyrical magazine, it was p..."

Another page about this aircraft here.