News from Christie’s, the world’s most famous fine arts auction house, tells of travel nostalgia from Russia in the time of Stalin. The auction house’s Vintage Poster sales, I’m told, always glean special interest in the travel genre. So the vintage Russian Intourist posters commissioned back in the 1930’s bear special note today.
Today’s sale reveals a rare group of originals commissioned by Joseph Stalin himself, from back in 1929. For those unfamiliar, Intourist was the official travel agency of the USSR back then. The agency (or ministry) was responsible for reflecting a touristic Russia during the time, not only for local tourists, but for inbound travelers from abroad as well.
It’s interesting to look at these Christie’s offerings, especially with regard to the tone of advertising way back then, as compared to now. Targeting the external audience obviously, the posters present a modern and cosmopolitan Russia in opposition to the western dogma of the time telling of communist oppressiveness.
The Vintage Posters sale offers five examples produced for the English and German tourism consumers of the time. Promoting Soviet Russia as “The New Travel Land” (above) these wonderful vintage works were designed by various artists to convey another side of the world’s largest, and often enigmatic country. As you can see in the images supplied us by Christie’s wonderful staff, one highlight of the current sale is an ad that reflects ‘The Transsiberian Express’ promoting Russia as the gateway (or shortest route) from the Far East to Europe.
Ironically, the tone of these posters seems to match themes that are reemerging today, particularly considering trade in between China, Russia, and the EU. Politics notwithstanding, the pieces as period art are no less magnificent. The bright art deco-ish graphics you see offer a fantastic and fascinating historical perspective that is multidimensional.
Below is a gallery of the lots with value estimates, along with other information. Readers interested in these or other Christie’s sales can visit the E-cataloque at: E-catalogue. For media inquiries, we suggest editors contact: Sophie Mckinney @ SMckinney@christies.com
Image credits: All Vintage Poster images courtesy Christie’s