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[“ВСТУПЛЕНИЕ” ИЗ ЖУРНАЛА ВАМПИР] “Introduction” from art-satirical journal Vampire by Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev. The scene depicted is the Moscow uprising of 1905.

For the anti-communist propagandist and hysteric, communism meant visceral death. As an existential threat to all civilization, it was said to somehow be evil for its own sake. The communist menace was thought to render all the supposed progress made lost, and all the history that preceded it left debased.  It was typified as torture, famine, and the complete collapse of civilization itself.

The terrorizing spectral force of communism was said to be all-consuming, with the capacity to bring all of world-history to its knees. In this way, the anti-communists gave “the devil his due” and, in doing so, gave communism unprecedented power. Their extreme fears were illustrated as blood-thirsty demons, Satan, beasts, skeletons, and exaggerated brutes to elicit shock and revulsion among their expected audiences.

These exaggerations rely on classic tropes seen elsewhere, such as the anti-semitic caricature of blood-thirsty murders reminiscent of the mythology of blood libels, along with others. In any effect, the propaganda-art produced against communism went to great lengths to tie it to the deathly end of history and of the entire social order. This much was true: communism was to be the complete abolishment and negation of the existing-state-of-things, of capitalist relations, and a radical break from history up until that point.

I have noticed some of these same styles imposed on other oppositional propaganda works. For example, posters made against early British imperialism use some of the same imagery in their anti-communist posters decades later. Similarly, anti-Japanese propaganda bears some resemblance to anti-communist ones found in South Korea during the 1950s. The dark forces depicted in these propaganda works, therefore, speak to some deep-seated fear which is easily transmuted and tacked onto many different ideologies across time. These images also speak of the power of these ideologies (communism and otherwise) in that they were associated with the most extreme and basal human elements, even death itself. For the anti-communist propagandist, nothing could be more severe. The threat was a question of existence itself — be it for liberalism, fascism, nationalism, monarchism, or any other social formation where communist posited itself as its violent, direct opposite.


Looking at how this hysteria has been illustrated over time, I’ll be posting them on Instagram. Follow it if you like @march_of_history.

Part One of what I assume will be many more… 

More than a decade ago, I was gifted a stamp collection from my father’s old co-worker. He was a lonely fellow and found out in passing that I had my own stamp collection. Having no one to pass it along to, he gave my dad his old collection of Soviet stamps to give to me, many of which are steeped in both Russian history (including famous figures, folklore, and art) and Soviet ideology. Now I find myself perusing through them after almost a decade and, having studied history, they now hold newfound meaning for me. I can appreciate them more so than I ever could have at ten or eleven years old.

It’s a large collection and I am still in the process of organizing all of these stamps, but I posted them in a forum not too long ago and the most common question was “Do you have any Lenin stamps?” I have quite a few of them and I decided to put them all on one page since they were some of the best stamps in my collection.

I don’t know how much these stamps are worth. Initially I thought they were rare, but I tempered by expectations a bit after realizing that most of these are archived online. However, I have not done research on all of them. I only checked a few of them that I considered to be particularly impressive, and was able to reverse-image search them quite easily. My knowledge on stamps is limited though, and I received mixed responses from people when assessing their value. To assess the value of the entire collection would be very meticulous and I have not gotten around to doing it yet. If anyone has any thoughts on the stamps presented in this post, either in value or any further insight on their production, I’d like to hear it. Most of these stamps come in duplicates, but the really “rare” ones (from my understanding, just by looking at them) only come as singles. All of these photos I tried to take in high-quality, so be sure to click on them individually if you want to look at their detail.

Some extra information on these stamps is worth mentioning, so I’ll go through the notable ones.

Image #1 — The Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan

What first caught my eye was the structure that’s depicted. The Soviet pavilion was the largest at the world fair and was designed by Mikhail V. Posokhin. It was the last world expo the Soviet Union participated in.

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Spacecrafts on display at the Soviet Pavilion, 1970.

Image #4 –‘Lenin at a Direct Line’ (1933) by Igor Grabar.

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The above image is featured on the stamp. Igor Grabar was a Russian post-Impressionist painter. He generally did not draw socialist realism, but he did some pieces like this one which depicts Lenin on the telegraph.

Image #9 — Lenin Statue in Kiev, Ukraine

The bottom stamp on image #9 is an illustration of the famous statue of Lenin in what is now Kiev, Ukraine.

VLUU L210  / Samsung L210

The statue took on new political significance since Euromaidan and was toppled by a mob in early December, 2013. It was considered a symbol of Russian occupation to Ukrainian nationalists and the Svoboda party took credit for its destruction.

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The destruction of the Lenin statue in Kiev was part of a general trend of destroying Soviet monuments in the country.  The phenomenon was called Ленінопад (Leninopad or “Lenin-fall”). A database of Soviet-era monuments demolished since 2013 can be found here.

Image #10 — Oil Painting by Viktor G. Tsyplakov

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The above oil painting is featured on one of the stamps in image #10. It is one of the better known examples of Viktor G. Tsyplakov’s work. He was a prolific artist, but his work, from my understanding, is not as well-documented as it should.

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“Facing a Firing Squad” – c. 1940s. If anybody has any information on this painting, I’d like to hear because I’m having trouble properly identifying it.


These are only a few stamps in a large collection I have. When it comes to these stamps, I have not even exhausted the research I would like to do on them. I’m actually not even very satisfied with what I have dug up so far because schoolwork has been forcing me to neglect my individual pursuits as of late but I will expand on this, and post other stamps, as I continue to read and identify them.

I have been wanting to do an in-depth look at certain individuals I consider important for some time now. I plan on collecting their works (to the best of my ability) all in one place for anyone who happens to find it useful. And I’ll start by introducing Josip Račić — an early 20th century Croatian painter and one of the modern founders of Croatian art. Despite dying young at 23 years-old, Račić demonstrated an incredible level of self-awareness in his short list of works which combined dark imagery and what he called “passion painting.” It was one of the first artistic manifestations of Croatian modernism.

Josip Račić was born in the small settlement of Horvati located within the city of Zagreb in Croatia. He attended elementary and high school in Zagreb and began working from 1900-1903 in the workshop of Vladimir Rožankovski studying lithography. His ambitions awakened, he went to Munich in 1904 to study under the Slovene painter, Anton Ažbe. He worked briefly in 1905 as a lithographer, but later that year he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Quickly, a Croatian art contingent formed at the school consisting of Račić, Oskar Herman, Vladimir Becić, and Miroslav Kraljević known as the Munich Circle (Münchenski krug). Račić became enthralled with observational painting and perspective which is felt in his works, most of them portraits. He particularly liked oil painting which is responsible for creating the dreary atmosphere in his works. The stares of his portraits are glassy and obscure with strong tones that place his works among the likes of French Impressionist Paul Cézanne and others.

Račić, being among the most gifted of the Croatian art circle, was rebellious and oftentimes clashed with his professor, Hugo von Habermann. He particularly objected to academic painting and the backward syllabus of the Academy. This desire made Račić leave for Paris in 1908. In a short three months, he painted several compositions of parks, cafes, and people. He also spent time copying some of the artwork in the Louvre, especially Francisco Goya’s work; his use of blackness interested him, but he also loved Impressionism and its use of light and colors. Račić tragically died of a gunshot blast on the 20th of June, 1908 in an apparent suicide.

Below are all the works by Račić that I managed to find in the best resolution I could find. My favorites are Majka i dijete (Mother and Child) and his self-portrait from 1908.


“The Death of Marat” by Jacques-Louis David.

Art is a complex phenomenon that has frequented philosophic circles since the days of Socrates. Scrambling to pinpoint a concise definition, thinkers have attempted to encapsulate objective meanings of aesthetics in an effort to fully understand what constitutes ‘beauty.’

The issue is that art has no distinguishable intrinsic value of its own; it as good as the audience deems it to be. Whether the audience is a group of commoners or a collection of art critics, works of artistic value have to substantiate their worth through harsh criticism — only thereafter falling into the category of real praiseworthy ‘art.’ This interpretation of art is valid in many respects, but it must also be realized that art must serve a function. It is certainly not purely subjective, since it derives its status from collective admiration, and it must portray an universally relevant idea, to capture the audience.

My goal here is not to differentiate between what is ‘art,’ and what is not, as that is an exercise in futility, and entertaining that point is relatively useless. Rather, the question should be phrased: “What constitutes good or proper works of art?”

“Want it? Enter” by Vladimir Mayakovsky.

The struggle for humanization involves articulating our consciousness, our fears and dispositions, into a medium that is accessible and unifying. This medium is art. Art should portray an ecumenical sentiment and should be a statement on the environment we inhabit. Rather than uselessly capture the banality of alienated industrial life, its function is to distance ourselves from mechanization and uniformity. It should introduce spontaneity, commentary, and subtle discontent where our own lives do not. Art should function as a medium in which we use to escape alienation. By association, this means that art is, by definition, antithetical to restraint and modern conditioning. It seeks to escape it, to realize human potentiality outside the bounds of current mechanisms. By need rather than choice, it must function outside these bounds because it expresses, by its very nature, an ideal. A work that is produced within the confines of modern production would hardly be revealing, since it would be restricted to only portraying feelings that are already realized. The struggle is to bring out conditions that elevate these sentiments, which requires working outside the confines of modern alienated labor and life, to highlight the potential of bettering our current condition and status. It is by this token, true ‘art’ is not conservative — it is, by necessity, progressive in its idealism and commentary. The Greeks, perhaps the first real admirers of beauty, understood this quite well, creating sculptures and paintings of the ‘perfect’ form and physique. They were attempting to capture an ideal distant of their own lives, and thus were in the tradition of real artistry.

“Wanderer above the Sea of Fog” by Caspar David Friedrich.

However, there are social means that pervert and downgrade art and bring it back into the restrictive confines of bourgeois industrial life. Profit, as a general rule, distorts its true function. Art cannot act as an escape if it crafted within the model of mass-production. It loses its individuality, the heart of its meaning, if it is created in bulk by groups driven by monetary gain. It also loses its ability to depict anything outside the contemporary, becoming a self-congratulatory trivial blanket statement that praises the lifestyle it is a part of, rather than criticizing and dissociating itself from it. The problems of artistry is heavily intertwined with the general struggle of humanization. It is a core component of reflection. The function it assumes, and how well it communicates it, is what differentiates the good from the bad, the masterworks from the mediocre.  Serving as an escape from alienation, art takes on a crucial form in human development. Without it, out inner emotions would be bound to the present, with no way of articulating what we wish to become. It is in this way art is an important realization of what it means to be “human,” and a stimulus for progressive insight and change — be it in the mind or in action.

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