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Red Star Over Russia: A Visual History of the Soviet Union


The Russian Revolution instigated some of the most startling advances in the fields of art, photography and graphic design seen in the twentieth century; their impact on the development of modernism was immeasurable and is still felt today. Through an amazing array of material including posters, photographs, paintings, magazine covers, book jackets, advertisements, pamphlets and other rare ephemera, Red Star Over Russia captures events as they unfold, providing a visual history of the dramatic birth and eventual decline of the Soviet Union. Much of this material, gathered over many years of research, has never been published before.

Through a combination of illustration and clear, accessible texts, King traces the development of polemical imagery in Russia from the simple effectiveness of a handbill distributed on the morning of the October Revolution in 1917 to the sophistication of the photo-montages of Alexander Rodchenko and Gustav Klutsis. The way that imagery was arrived at, manipulated and deployed in the service of the Revolution is explored using a wealth of examples. Iconic posters of heroic figures are shown alongside the original photographs from which they were taken. Painted portraits of Lenin are shown to draw on the traditional skills of Russian religious iconography. Rare photographs document the bitter struggles of the Second World War. These remarkable images are accompanied by compelling explanatory texts that lead the reader through the extraordinary history of the Soviet Union.

The book’s layouts are designed in the clear, visually striking style that have made David King one of the most renowned art editors of his generation.

David King is the author of The Commissar Vanishes: The Falsification of  Photographs and Art in Stalin’s Russia (1997) and Ordinary Citizens: The Victims of Stalin (2003). He was art editor of The Sunday Times Magazine between 1965 and 1975 and is the owner of one of the world’s pre-eminent collection of Russian artefacts.

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