Realism with gaze-appeal: Lenin, children, and photomontage

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    3 Scopus citations


    During the first decade after the Russian Revolution, the new Soviet state went through a major mediatization campaign. Deploying various genres and platforms, the state created a diverse network of institutions and mechanisms that could represent and disseminate important Communist ideas and concepts. The essay explores only one dimension of this campaign: the radical turn towards the optical in the early Soviet media. More specifically, it traces the transformation of photomontage by looking closely at a distinctive genre of the illustrated book: the so-called Leniniana for children. Lenin's death in 1924 generated a wave of publications for children in which their own stories, recollections, and poetry about the leader were accompanied with texts written by adults. Often, these textual collages were interspersed with photo-illustrations and photomontages that prominently featured Lenin surrounded by children. Amalgamating ideology, text, painterly devices, and photographic images, photomontages in children's literature offered convincing visual models of plausible belonging and connectedness for the young reader: realist and spectacular at the same time. As the essay suggests, the 1924-25 memorial media campaign was instrumental in merging the abstract language of the Russian avant-garde with the concrete visual idioms of the documentary photography. In the memorial books, the Communist abstraction was concretized: the utopian future found its embodiment in multiple images of the first Soviet generation.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)11-34
    Number of pages24
    JournalJahrbucher fur Geschichte Osteuropas
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Apr 2019

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • History


    • Avant-garde
    • Children's Literature
    • Photography
    • Soviet Union
    • Visual Anthropology


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