Gustav Klutsis (1895 – 1944) was a Latvian artist and graphic, poster and applied arts designer. Born in 1895 Klutsis was a devoted supporter of the Boshevik regime and he was a member of the communist party. He was considered the pioneer of photomontage in the Soviet Union and an acclaimed graphic designer and painter. Klutsis was one of the earliest artists to use the photomontage technique for visual propaganda. He subsequently emerged as a brilliant creator of Stalinist political art.
From 1924 to1930, he taught at the Vkhutemas (Higher Artistic and Technological Workshops) and was active in the organisation of the USSR Pavilion at the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels in 1925.
He entered the Latvian Rifle Regiment after training in Riga from 1913 to 1915 and Petrograd from 1915 to 1917. He went on to study under Kasimir Malevich and Antoine Pevsner at the State Free Art Studios (Svomas).
He experimented with materials in their own right until adopting a more practical outlook in the design of agitprop propaganda and events, influenced by the abstract styles of Suprematism and Constructivism. Photomontage was often used to enhance the context and political message of his posters.
Klutsis summed up his role in the revolution as follows;
“My task was to make the revolutionary struggle of the working class and Soviet reality the contents of my creative output, converting it into artistic images comprehensible to the masses” (Pisch, 2016)
Despite his propaganda work for the regime, he was killed not long after his arrest at a prison near Moscow.
Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.
Woodham, J. M. (2006). A dictionary of modern design. Oxford University Press.
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