The Three Million Case
1926 by Georgii & Vladimir Stenberg
KINO/FILM. Soviet Posters of the Silent Screen, GRAD: Gallery for Russian Arts & Design
The Moscow born Stenberg brothers were iconic artists of their time, working in a country so ignited with change that excitement and ideas flowed richly to those who could afford to have them. The brothers were key in the many emerging institutions of the time, co-founding OBMOKhU (Society of Young Artists) and pioneers of the Constructivist movement that encouraged the teeming overlap of disciplines. If you could construct you could build, and building meant anything from sculpture to illustration to set design, thus an all-encompassing art evolved. The Stenbergs designed many film posters – films being integral to both art and government propaganda – drawing on the poignant impact the new and freeing collage approach provided; perspective could be defied, scale muddled and colour bold. The Three Million Case poster is overwhelmed by the imposing and over-sized face of a protagonist, jarringly sliced in half. With red lips and a beauty spot, she should perhaps be the embodiment of enviable film-star glamour, yet her menacing stare and arched brows cut her persona far deeper. One side of her face lies in the darkness of shadow, while the other is illuminated with the stark beam of a spot-light – its source invitingly unknown. The two figures beneath, bending it seems to the dynamic line of constructivism itself, are so crisp a modern eye would think them digital. The pattern of their trousers – flat, meticulous and monotone – almost premeditate the pop art of Lichtenstein (postcard 93) and the like, casting these curious little figures as new-age silhouettes against the block of blue. The composition is finished – underlined – with a yellow block at the bottom; almost magnet-like, this bright line pulls the Stenbergs’ carefully arranged yet abstracted components together.