“Read one. It is your human responsibility.”
Russian Revolutionary Era Propaganda Posters, Harold M. Fleming Papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, New York Public Library, https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-401e-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99. Artist: S. Ivanov. Published 1920. Photoshopped.
But no, she isn’t a teacher. The large imperative painted on the foundation of her blocky columnar image translates as “Serve the people!” and the title of the document in her hand is “Deputy’s Report.”
American reader, you probably had two reasons for your vocational mistake. The obvious one was the image’s heavy didactic freight: its books, its colored pencil, its wall poster in simple educational colors. A more specifically American reason may have to do with the woman’s peach-tinted blouse and mannish little bow tie. It evokes apple-for-the-disciplinarian motifs from folk memory. And of course this disciplinarian is a woman, like most American teachers in 1950, when this poster was published.
But in Russian the peach is heavily overlaid with gray. In the gray, shoulder pads are dominant. It is only down beneath the thick layer pad that the peach-tinted body gestures toward something aspirational off to the right. In another art domain, that unseen ideal could conceivably be a body consisting only of flesh or an image consisting only of cloth covered by paint. The peach-colored Russian woman was painted long after Duchamp’s French woman descended her staircase. But unlike Duchamp’s lithe nude, this gray-swaddled body fills the image from side to side, hugely. Crushed to the margin, nothing unpadded could survive that mass. Its report will be an onslaught. Outside the image frame, the unseen idea of an image consisting only of form will shrivel and vanish. Its unseenness will take on the final trait of inconceivability.
Source: http://thesovietbroadcast.tumblr.com/post/156628250604/1950-serve-the-people. Photoshopped.