1917 - November 7

Hungarian title:

1917 November 7.


Tram poster (cca. 24 x 17 cm)






Paint on cardboard.

Price: US$4000


Colourful, painted poster artwork from the end of the 1950s, created by Bertalan Altmann, to remember the October Revolution of Russia in 1917.

A new period started in Hungarian poster art after the 1956 revolution. The former Rákosi-regime was replaced by the Kádár-system, and the new political situation determined the cultural changes as well. The former great expansion of political propaganda posters of the 1950s came to an end as the new political leadership realized that political issues should be avoided on streets. Along with political propaganda posters commercial posters also disappeared for a while due to the lack of products and independent clients. On the other hand, the genre of cultural poster had its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s.

Although political matters could not appear on posters of the time, there was an exception: big annual political events, state celebrations and anniversaries. These events could fit in the range of cultural events and posters of them also could function as cultural posters. These annual events generated a separated type of cultural poster design and they also gave a hard task to poster designers. The topic was the same year by year and the iconography had its own recurrent elements: waving flags, emblematic state buildings and political symbols appeared in these posters. It didn’t belong to the fancied duty of poster artists neither, but it was a help in case of a constraint of financial matters.

Compared to the average number of copies of a poster (which was about 400-4000) these posters had a high number of copies, about 10-30 000. The size of the poster was bigger than average and the quality and thickness of the paper used was also better. So this genre was a special type from several aspects.

Bertalan Altmann often created poster artworks for state celebrations and anniversaries. This work was created for the anniversary of the 1917 Russian revolution which was celebrated in every country of the Soviet Union during the Socialist period. The celebration was held on the 7th of November, but the original revolution was in October accourding to the calendar Russia used in the period. As the event was forced to be an international celebration in the Eastern bloc, we can find numerous posters in the subject. Altmann has another piece of it in our collection in similar colours.

This poster artwork is an interesting and concentrated design, depicting a typical character of socialist iconography, a working-class man. In front of a blue background he is captured in dark red and strident orange, holding a gun and a flag with sickle and hammer, the symbol of the ruling political system of the era. The working-class man looks powerful and determined, as he is looking back probably from the front of the crowd of a procession. He absolutely appears as the hero of the Socialism. The strong contrast pictured on the figure of the two warm colurs makes the image a bit more expressive and modern design, and the use of few colours and elements also contributes to a concentrated composition.

Although this work was created as a cultural poster artwork, the propagandistic character is obvious. Still it is a more colourful and decorative design than the typical socialist realist propaganda posters of the earlier years.

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