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Poster, When a Troika Went Down, a Pair Won't Do

This is a Poster. It was designed by Dmitri Moor. It is dated 1921 and we acquired it in 2014. Its medium is lithograph on paper mounted on linen. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

In this Soviet poster designed by Dmitri Moor, cartoonish figures trek across a dark landscape transformed by war. Along the lower border, Moor substitutes bloody bayonets for blades of grass, implying that Soviet land is hostile to these travelers, all of whom are enemies of the Bolshevik cause. The poster satirizes Soviet adversaries in both the Russian Civil War and the war with Poland. White Army leaders Anton Denikin, Alexander Kolchak, and Nikolai Yudenich lie vanquished on the ground, while White General Pyotr Wrangel and Polish Marshall Józef Piłsudski struggle to pull a cart laden with symbolic figures of the Bourgeoisie, the landlords, the tsar, and the Western counterrevolutionary intervention (called the Entente). The text reads “Where a Troika Went Down, a Pair Won’t Do.” A troika is a cart drawn by three horses, but Moor uses the word to refer to the three fallen generals. Wrangel and Piłsudski drag the cart forward like horses, and Moor suggests that they will be defeated like the trio on the ground.
Moor’s lively caricatures of the enemy reflect the influence of traditional lubki, folk woodcut prints depicting various religious, moral, or satirical subjects, which had circulated in Russia since the 17th century. Floral-patterned text also evokes decorative folk designs, in marked contrast to the bold, linear type of most Soviet posters of this period. Many of these posters championed the modernity of the revolution, but here Moor presents the campaign in more familiar terms. His vernacular aesthetic may have been intended for rural audiences, whose lives were destabilized by the violence and uncertainty which accompanied the revolution. With minimal text and a clear narrative, the poster would have been comprehensible to peasants who lacked the ability to read.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled A Graphic Field of Bayonets.

This object was donated by Merrill Berman. It is credited Gift of Merrill C. Berman in honor of Ellen Lupton.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 36 × 102.7 cm (14 3/16 × 40 7/16 in.)

Cite this object as

Poster, When a Troika Went Down, a Pair Won't Do; Designed by Dmitri Moor (Russian, 1883-1946); Russia; lithograph on paper mounted on linen; H x W: 36 × 102.7 cm (14 3/16 × 40 7/16 in.); Gift of Merrill C. Berman in honor of Ellen Lupton; 2014-20-3

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Poster, When a Troika Went Down, a Pair Won't Do |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=2 October 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>