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Take a Closer Look




1985 - 1991

Now as we enter the third year of Russian’s invasion of Ukraine,

there’s a temptation to boycott Russian culture along with Russian oil.

We should resist this temptation.

Since the time of the tsars, Russian artists and writers have pushed back

—sometimes overtly, sometimes indirectly—against the excesses of their leaders.

The posters of the Glasnost era presented in this exhibition show how an earlier

generation of Russian artists spoke truth to power even while pretending to serve it.

They should give us hope for a brighter future for Russia—and Ukraine.

Curatorial Statement

Hope against Hope is a revelatory exhibition of Soviet posters from 1985 through 1991. It shows how artists and designers from that era responded to the innovative policies of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) launched by Mikhail Gorbachev, the new General Secretary of the Communist Party. Perestroika and glasnost were meant to rescue the foundering Soviet Union’s economy and to revive the long-lost ideals of the Russian Revolution.


The posters in the exhibition reveal a hitherto unknown chapter in Russian art and design. Grouped according to theme and imagery, the posters will be divided into ten sections: “Back to the Future” (recalling the ideals of the Revolution); “Heroes”; “Villains”; “Slackers”; “Libertines”; “Victims”; “Soviet Venus”; “Nature”; “The Language of Objects”; and “Peace.” Every section, comprising a range of two to twelve posters, will be introduced by respective wall texts providing each with a social context and historical background, while the labels for the individual posters will include translations of the Russian text that appear on the images along with explanations of key references.  Overall, the selection and installation will highlight the visual impact of the posters, enticing the general viewer as well as the aficionado of Russian art and history.

Curated by Pepe Karmel with George G. King.

Exhibition Checklist

Complete image checklist of posters arranged in ten themes.

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