Although Imperial Russian artists, writers, and intellectuals are credited with having produced some of the nineteenth century’s greatest cultural achievements, at the turn of the twentieth century, the overwhelming majority of the county’s citizens remained illiterate. As such, visual images played an essential role in enabling officials to communicate otherwise complex and difficult ideas to the masses. At earlier times in Russian history, this function had been served by the traditional illustrated woodcut (lubok), Orthodox Christian iconography, and newsprint graphics. In the aftermath of 1917, a new visual medium, the political poster, emerged as the most important tool in the new Bolshevik regime’s propaganda arsenal. Throughout the 1920s and well beyond, Party leaders dedicated considerable resources to the creation and dissemination of posters aimed at generating popular support for official policies and initiatives.
Not surprisingly, propaganda posters were central elements in the campaign to promote Soviet aviation.
A complete analysis of these posters and a discussion of Bolshevik strategies aimed at fostering Soviet “air-mindedness” can be found in Chapter Five of Dictatorship of the Air.