Viktor Koretsky

One of the greatest of Soviet propaganda artists, Viktor Koretsky (Виктор Борисович Корецкий), was born in 1909 in Kiev. Between 1921 and 1929, he studied at the Moscow School of Illustrative Arts, where he came under the influence of the Constructivists; his abiding interest in agit-prop poster art stemmed from his fascination with the photomontages of John Heartfield. From 1931 till his death in 1998, he worked in this genre.

Koretsky’s technique was based on a combination of natural photographs with pencil drawings and gouache. During the Second World War, he prepared nearly 40 posters that distinguished themselves with the severity of their construction, emotional intensity and in how they communicated the dramatic experiences of the Soviet people.

‘Be a hero!’ (1941).

Koretsky was the author of the first Soviet postal stamp dedicated to the Patriotic war. It was called ‘Be a hero!’ and was released on August 12, 1941. [1] This stamp was based on his eponymous poster which was displayed along Moscow streets in June 1941 in the first weeks following the Nazi invasion. [2]

Koretsky was careful in his choice of models for his work. The actor Vsevolod Larionov (star in the 1940s and 50s) often posed for him, as did Alexandra Danilova (who had a major role in Eisenstein’s ‘Alexander Nevsky’ (1938)). [3]

After the war, he diversified into Soviet internationalist campaigns, such as those for human rights and nuclear disarmament and mutual cooperation. ‘Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Koretsky’s art continued to grow in international stature, as younger generations of Eastern European poster artists adopted his aggressive, confrontational visual style.‘ [4]

Be a Hero!

Our forces are without number.

We have one aim – Berlin.

Warriors of the Red Army, save us! (1942).

Join the ranks of the Corps of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent!

Born under a fortunate star.

My happiness depends on your success! (1947).

‘We demand peace, but if you touch us…’ (V. Mayakovsky).

Honour and Glory to the Soviet Teacher! (1951).

If you want to be like this – train!

American Policy (Internal/External). (1970).

Brotherhood and Equality Among All Nations! (1960s).

References

[1] The Russian Wikipedia article on Viktor Koretsky.

[2] ‘The Most Famous War Posters‘, Hochu.ua, 9 May 2012.

[3] Zemlyachka, ‘Viktor Koretsky. Victors.

[4] Art Tattler, ‘Viktor Koretsky’s Emotionally-Charged Soviet Propaganda‘.

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