The Stenberg Brothers

November 15, 2009

Date of Birth:
Georgii Stenberg was born October 7, 1900 and died October 15, 1933
Vladimir stenberg was born April 4, 1899 and died May 1,
1982.

Inspiration:
Post Revolutionary Soviets in the 1920’s loved film, due to the sixty percent illiterate adult population, film was a huge form of communication and entertainment. The heavy funding from the government gave the film industry the ability to create movies that could be easily digested by an audience as well as cutting edge, avant-garde cinema. These factors all worked together to help introduce the world to the Stenberg brothers and their unique visual style and language.

Education:
With a Swedish father and Russian Mother both brothers were born in Moscow. The Stenbergs both first attended school for engineering but soon moved on to art where they attended the Stogand School of Applied Art in Moscow. In addition to art school, the brothers where involved in Svomas which are free studios for artists in Moscow. The Stenbergs and comrades formed the Society of Young Artists and held their first group exhibition in 1919. They continued to produce work for the society and take part in exhibitions all the way through 1923.

Works of Note:

Illustrator Miscellany:
In 1922 the brothers staged the first “constructivists” exhibit at the Poet’s Cafe in Moscow. That year Vladimir showed work in the landmark First Russian Art Exhibition in
Berlin.

Throughout the 1920’2 and 30’s the brothers where well established in the avant-garde movement in Moscow and The Institute of Artistic Culture along with Varvara Stedanova, Iyvbov Popova, and Alexander Rodchenko who is considered the founder of the Russian Constructivists.

Through 1922 and 1931 the brothers designed sets and costumes for Alexander Tairov’s Moscow Chamber theatre and contributed art to the Art Journal of the Left Front.

Examination of Materials:
The Stenberg brothers practiced in a large variety of media, initially the mainly focus on Constructivist sculptors. In time as theatre designers, architects, and craftspeople. Their deign work covered a huge range of work including clothing, women’s shoes, and rail carriages. Although the brothers where skilled in all of these areas their main talent and interest was in theatre and movie poster design. The large interest in Russian films sparked the brothers creativity for the graphic design of movie posters and paved the way for the brothers to create art that would be widely known as some of the best and most radical art to come out of Russia in a long time. The brothers where at the height of their career during the revolutionary period of politics as well as artistic experimentation in Russia. The Stenbergs assembled photos and previously printed papers that where created by others to create an entirely new style of art that had not been seen before. They realized that art no longer had to be about realism. The Stenbergs helped in the birth of graphic design that utilized the printed reproduction of collages. The Stenberg’s work began to be recognized as legitimate work when they created work for the state. By using distortion of perspective, photomontage, a sense of movement, and a new use of color and typography the Stenberg’s work began to become extremely popular and the brothers began to work mainly on movie posters.

Style Analysis
vertov

In the poster for The Man with the Movie Camera, the stenberg brothers show a great example of why their work was so famous. Instead of using the typical still of the actors and basic text describing what the movie is about, the brothers us a series of images to describe what the movie is about and catch the audiences attention. The Use of the women’s legs to lead the viewers eyes from the title of the film clockwise around the poster to the eye in the camera help create a narrative that gives us a sense of the feeling of the movie. The gunman and the bombs in the upper right of the piece show that the movie has a violent and tense side to it as well as the surprised eye in the camera. The use of colors and contrast also show how different the Stenberg’s work was from other artists in this time period.

To me this piece is still extremely modern looking even though it was created in 1929. I think that it is amazing how far ahead the brothers where of other graphic designers. The use of photos collaged with the flat images keeps me looking at the piece instead of taking in the image and moving on to something els. It is hard to tell what materials where used except for the photos, but it does seem like ink might have been used along with gouache.It is also possible that the piece was printed because of the use of the piece. It is a movie poster, so it was probably printed many times for publicity. Overall the piece is a great example of how innovative the Stenberg brothers where and how talented they where at bringing modern design to illustration.

– Nat Emmett, Spring 2009

_______________

Endnotes:
Smith, Teddy. http://designhistorymashup.blogspot.com/2008/03/stenberg-brothers-revolutionary-poster.html (22 October 2009).

http://www.absolutearts.com/artsnews/1999/08/15/25814.html (22 October 2009).

McHahon, Tom. http://www.tommcmahon.net/2004/01/the_stenberg_br.html (22 October 2009).

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