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We can afford many things - The harvest was good

Hungarian title:

Sok mindenre jutott - Bő volt a termés

Artist: Size:
Gönczi Gebhardt, Tibor A0 2 Sheet (cca. 84 x 119 cm)
Year: Condition:
1950 Fine, light fold marks, a few small tears along the borders.
Paper, offset.

Price: $1100


Propaganda poster for the agricultural cooperative by Tibor Gönczi Gebhardt.

After World War II, when the communist regime took over the so-called five year plans were introduced in Hungary. These focused on major changes in every field of the country’s economy and life for the sake of improvement and growth. Seven five-year plans were announced throughout the decades. In the 1950s centralization and the redistribution of goods were the major goals. In relation with agriculture, this meant the collectivization of crops and the elimination of private farms, the lands of the peasants were incorporated in collectives. There were several provisions applying to peasants, including compulsory delivery, that is, they had to consign a certain amount of crops determined by the state on a very low price to the cooperatives. If they couldn’t live up to it, they had to pay a penalty. Due to this, most peasants soon went bankrupt as the requirements were unreasonable, the economy was in a decay, peasants did not have the resources to fulfil the expectations. However, one of the state’s priority was to spread false, overly positive propaganda all over the country, the brainwashing of the society was of key importance. The strong control over all fields, the means of encroaching to people’s lives was developed in the USSR and was applied in Hungary as well. The new, socialist realist manner extended to poster art also, artist were obliged to follow that between 1950 and 1955. Besides the required painting like, realistic, naturalist and plain style, the subjects of the posters were also determined: improving economy, reconstructions, national holidays, fighting for peace, etc. Regardless of the subject, these posters most of the time depicted happy and strong workers in theatrical postures, peasants with plenteous crops and always included communist symbols.

The restricted themes, the strongly controlled style and the censorship effectively suspended the realist tendencies developed in the 1930s and 1940s. Switching from one style to another was an enormous struggle for some artists, but Gönczi could quickly adapt to the new situation.

This poster was designed to propagate the farmers’ (or agricultural) cooperatives, the institutions to where the farmers had to hand in their crops. The composition is a good example for the way the communist propaganda twisted the truth, and shamelessly lied to people with images displaying satisfied workers and happy peasants.

The text at the bottom says: “the harvest was good-we can afford many things”. In the background the building of the agricultural cooperative appears. The message the composition conveys is that the farmers were so productive that they could earn a lot of money by selling the crops to the cooperatives and now they are happy because they can buy new clothes, electronic devices, books, bicycles or whatever they wish. As always on the socialist realist posters, the image is plain, easy to understand: on the right side, the man is just arriving ready to hand in the crops what his car is loaded with. On the other side of the image the happy family is smiling at him, they have already sold their goods and bought products for themselves. The products depicted on the poster allude to the wide variety of available goods on the market provided by the flourishing socialist economy: sewing machine, radio, bicycle, fashionable suit, fabrics, etc. The background is less detailed, the silhouette of another farmer is visible as he is selling his goods.

These unnaturally optimistic pieces became exciting historical documents in our age, that remained from an era where deceit was a major tool and false propaganda received a strong attention to hide the obvious from people.