Soviet Psychedelic

I’ve long been interested in Soviet propaganda art, and was thrilled when my friend Eli sent me an illustrated version of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Published in Russia in 1986 — just three years before the fall of the Berlin Wall — the English-language booklet contains graphics by a certain “S.A. Geta”. The design style appears to be influenced by American psychedelic art from the 60s and 70s (see an example further below). The juxtaposition of hippy culture with the crumbling, totalitarian Soviet regime is just bizarre.  It makes you wonder whether the Soviet designers had the “western youth market” in mind — just a few years behind!

Notice some of the imagery: the ringed finger, top-hat, mustache, chimney stacks and chains.


(Text at top: “Capitalist”, Right: “Strike”)

(Top left: “Steam”, Bottom left: “Machine”, Right: “Money”)

(Top: “Private Property”)

Smaller designs in margins:


Peter Max, “The Different Drummer (Clothing Store in New York)” (1968)


3 responses to “Soviet Psychedelic

  1. Hi
    Good work! I’m a fan!

  2. Hi,

    Very interesting illustration indeed. Do you feel they serve their purpose and convey a clear message though? (in the context of the book).
    The style seems to work well when it comes to depicting the “evils of capitalism” but I’m interested to know if the illustration do convey a positive message reg. communism as well (which i am guessing is the purpose of illustrating the book to begin with).

  3. A fellow H&Ker! I visited Berlin a year ago and adored it — it was liberating to find 34×36 jeans in a standard clothing store… To your question: The first image, with its shooting stars and portraits of Marx and Engels, is surely meant to be inspirational. The design feels oppressive to me – but judging from how popular this art style was once upon a time, it may have have been interpreted differently by the previous generation.

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