Hopefully everyone enjoyed celebrating the holidays under their New Year's trees, and Santa Claus, or Father Frost, brought joy to all on New Year's Eve! Yes, that’s right. In Russia, the customs we often associate with Christmas—like the Christmas tree—have become New Year's celebrations instead. The Christmas tree was actually forbidden in Russia between 1916 and 1936 due to its German origins, but it was reinstated in 1936 as a New Year’s tree exclusively.
The artists of the TASS posters, from the upcoming exhibition Windows on the War: Soviet TASS Posters at Home and Abroad, also marked the new year in a festive fashion. They celebrated victories past and future, the return of the sons of Russia to their families, victory over fascism, and, at the end of the war, the cascade of peace and friendship falling over Russia like new fallen snow on the Kremlin.
The only New Year’s poster in the exhibition is TASS 887, which is appropriately titled Happy New Year! It reads:
The New Year!
The day of total reckoning
With the Fascist gang is drawing near.
This is the year, when
The enemy will gather no bones!
Happy New Year! depicts a Red Army soldier, ambushing two German soldiers at night. The Red Army soldier is clothed in white and contrasts sharply with the dark colors of his enemies and their surroundings. This poster, produced on the eve of the new year, 1944, displays the strength of the Red Army and the Soviet people, as well as their hope for an end of the war in the coming year.
This new year would also have been particularly special for the TASS studio staff, if they had ever lived to see it. The TASS artists and writers were always keen on having their work distributed and exhibited abroad, just as they were keen on the exchange of artistic ideas and ideals between their studio and its foreign counterpoints. Our exhibition goes up this year—almost 70 years after they sent their posters to the Art Institute. In 2011, TASS will be in the spotlight once again.