GLASNOST & PERESTROIKA
When Mikhail S. Gorbachev became general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in March 1985, he launched his nation on a dramatic new course. His dual program of “perestroika” (“restructuring”) and “glasnost” (“openness”) introduced profound changes in economic practice, internal affairs and international relations. Within five years, Gorbachev’s revolutionary program swept communist governments throughout Eastern Europe from power and brought an end to the Cold War (1945-91), the largely political and economic rivalry between the Soviets and the United States and their respective allies that emerged following World War II. Gorbachev’s actions also inadvertently set the stage for the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which dissolved into 15 individual republics.
The Soviet Poster Show is very likely the one collection of original posters that provides a snapshot into this phenomena in Soviet history, shedding light on the ways in which some Soviet artists responded to the dramatic changes and upheaval of their society. These posters reflect the very beginnings of the new found freedom of expression and insistence on transparency that were the hallmarks of Mikhail Gorbachev’s revolutionary policies.
The concept of an open and collaborative Russia seems, in many ways, even more revolutionary and outlandish today, than when it arrived in American as a collection of revolutionary poster art in 1989.