Satire and Propaganda in the Graphic Art of Vladimir Lebedev

In: Experiment
Nicoletta Misler Universitá di Napoli “L’Orientale” Naples Italy

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The focus of this article is on the social caricatures which Vladimir Vasil’evich Lebedev (1891–1967) produced just before and after 1917, especially for the journals Satirikon and Novyi Satirikon (New Satyricon), tо which his immediate colleagues such as Boris Grigor’ev and Vladimir Kozlinsky also contributed. With copious references to Lebedev’s personal archive and to his domestic “laboratory” of cut-outs and preliminary drawings, the text and illustrations treat of Lebedev’s satirical attitudes towards both the bourgeoisie and the political élite and of his often ambivalent depiction of “friends” and “enemies,” a condition also evident in his ROSTA posters and in Nikolai Punin’s 1922 book of reproductions called Russkii plakat 1917–1922. A key argument is that during the 1910s–1930s, ideological pressures notwithstanding, Lebedev managed to retain an esthetic distance and that, rather than kowtow to a given regime, ultimately, found artistic refuge in illustrations for children’s books, often in collaboration with writers such as Samuil Marshak.

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