Soviet and East German Posters

With more than 2,000 posters, The Wende Museum houses an important collection of Soviet and East German graphic art. Most distinct among them is a collection of original artworks from the Perestroika-era assembled in the early 1990s by the late Tom Ferris, a Russian studies teacher in Beverly Hills, and Moscow-based writer Iurii Komov.

The collection includes 234 works produced by Russian artists in the mid-1970s to-late 1980s preceding the collapse of the USSR in 1991, as well as some works from the early 1990s. Chronicling some of the key changes that the Soviet Union experienced under Mikhail Gorbachev and his policies of Glasnost and Perestroika, the themes span the full spectrum of the country’s social and political concerns including the failed coup of August 1991, Stalin’s terrors, environmental concerns and AIDS. The artworks speak vividly of a nation going through unprecedented economic and political turmoil, yet they project high hopes for a future that does not repeat mistakes of the past. Their acerbic satire is the very embodiment of Glasnost’s insistence on transparency and freedom of speech. In addition to the artworks, this collection includes original notes, memoirs and video interviews with key artists represented.

Most of the traditional Soviet propaganda posters in the Wende collection came from a Latvian military archive that was decommissioned in the early 1990s. This cluster was recently augmented by an acquisition of 138 Soviet film posters representing more than twenty movie studios that existed in the former USSR with a number of productions from other countries in the Eastern Bloc.

The collection also contains almost 200 original prints from Germany that focus on elections during the transitional Wende era. Many of these posters are from the crucial first free elections in the GDR in March of 1990, only a few months after the fall of the Berlin Wall.