Poster, The First Day of May, ca. 1920
With raised flags and soaring spirits, soldiers, sailors, workers, and peasants rally together in this Soviet poster by Nikolai Kogout. United, they celebrate May first, International Workers’ Day. Conceived as a labor strike for an eight-hour workday, the holiday was adopted by Soviet leaders to commemorate the struggle of proletarian workers around the world. Lenin described it as a day for them to celebrate "their solidarity in the struggle against all coercion and oppression of man by man, the struggle to free the toiling millions from hunger, poverty, and humiliation." In Kogout’s poster, this empowerment is palpable. Demonstrators shout and gesture with zeal, looking up, as if toward a bright future. New factories thrust skyward in sharp, vertical lines. These buildings jut out at odd angles, without realistic perspective or scaling. To capture the holiday’s heady optimism, Kogout abandons the mundane realism of the everyday, veering instead into abstraction. Drawing on the geometric vocabulary of the Russian avant-garde, he presents a crisp new world, nearly within reach.
It is credited
Museum purchase through gift of Mrs. John Innes Kane.
Its dimensions are
71 x 53.6 cm (27 15/16 x 21 1/8 in.)
It has the following markings
Marked in graphite, lower left: N. Koroyt [not signature]
It is inscribed
Imprinted in brown ink, upper and lower margins, publisher information
Cite this object as
Poster, The First Day of May, ca. 1920; Russia; color lithograph on newsprint; 71 x 53.6 cm (27 15/16 x 21 1/8 in.); Museum purchase through gift of Mrs. John Innes Kane; 1992-123-3