November 01, 2009

TableTop Agitprop


In Soviet Russia in the 1920s, even products not generally associated with social causes were politicized. If you bought “Our Industry” candies with labels designed by the famous Constructivist artist Aleksandr Rodchenko, you could ponder feats of Soviet engineering while enjoying something sweet.

In 1924, Mikhail Mikhailovich Adamovich decorated a porcelain plate similarly designed to inspire the masses with revolutionary fervor. “He Who Does Not Work Does Not Eat” represents an eclectic mix of styles. The letters of the slogan are playfully abstract, recalling the floating geometric forms of the Suprematist movement. Yet, at the same time, the plate retains distinctive elements of traditional Russian folk style, no doubt meant to make it more appealing to peasants and workers alike. The abbreviation for the Russian Federation—R.S.F.S.R.—is rendered by means of curlicues and floral patterns often seen in peasant handicrafts, though they are presented here in the red, white, and black colors so closely associated with the Revolution. And although the rousing slogan speaks perfectly to socialist ideals, it actually originates from the Bible, in Saint Paul’s teaching in Thessalonians 2, 3:10. These words were sure to resonate with a still-devout populace.

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