Rene Wanner's Poster Page


CD cover, 7k Plakate der SBZ/DDR, Politik - Wirtschaft - Kultur
Sammlung des Deutschen Historischen Museums, Berlin (Posters from the Soviet Zone of Occupation and the German Democratic Republic, Politics - Economy - Culture)
CD-ROM Edition 1999, Hrsg. Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin; K.G. Saur Verlag, Munich (D) (1999), fax ++49 - (0)89 - 76902-150; more than 7300 color jpg pictures, for Windows 3.1 and higher; ISBN 3-598-40315-1; DM 88.00 (about 48 US$); in a mixture of english and german
The cover is based on posters from Imre Halmos (Lenin) and Volker Pfueller (Medea)

The fourth poster CD from the art database publishing house Saur fortunately retains the same format and user interface as its predecessors ( Political posters for the German Democratic Republic 1945-1970, Posters of World War I and Film posters 1910-1955 from the Austrian National Library ), so you might want to consult my previous review for the details of search language, picture quality or iconographic description of the posters.

Both the number of posters and the size of the text database that goes with it has increased considerably, compared to the previous CD's and is now truly astonishing. There is for example detailed information on about 1800 designers, and additional entries for the persons shown on the posters, from philosopher Karl Marx (1818 - 1883) to a ten-line description of actress Brigitte Bardot, born September 28 in Paris. Let me ad that Bardot made it into 2 posters only, but Marx into 56, to put the priorities of the curators of the former Museum fuer deutsche Geschichte into the right perspective.

The somewhat cryptic abbreviation SBZ/DDR in the title of the CD refers to the communist country East Germany which ceased to exist ten years ago. You can therefore expect a good portion of social realism and agitprop posters, praising Lenin, the party, the happy worker and condemning evil US imperialism and west german militarism:

Poster, 6k
Full power to the development of socialism
1952, Horst Naumann
Poster, 6k
1. Mai 1958
1958, Lothar Ziratzki
Poster, 5k
1. Mai 1976
1976, Rudolf Gruettner
Poster, 3k
11. SED Party Congress
1986, Hans-Georg Gerasch
Fortunately, the coin has another side, and within the limited freedom that the state allowed in cultural posters, a lively poster scene developed in the German Democratic Republic, quite distinct from that in other socialist countries, or from west Germany:
Poster, 6k
International poster exhibition in Cottbus
1980, Felix Buettner
exhibition poster
Poster, 6k
H. Brade Plakate, A. Richter Papierkunst
1984, Helmut Brade
exhibition poster
Poster, 5k
Arturo Ui / Tales from the Viennese Forrest
1988, Hajo Schueler
theater poster
Poster, 3k
1988, Andreas Wallat
theater poster
This side is, to my taste, a bit under-represented on the CD. Even such marvellous pieces as Volker Pfueller's Three penny opera, or Hubert Riedel's Theatre du geste cannot be found, although they were among the hundred best posters of the year, and the accompanying text claims that all winning entries are kept in the museum.

I also noted strange gaps in the biographical data of some well known designers, like Henning Wagenbreth (who lives within walking distance from the museum), Theo Matejko (who had a full biography in the museum's own catalogue in 1992) or Jozef Mroszczak (founder of the International Poster Biennale in Warsaw, well documented in many publications).

Despite these shortcomings, the CD is a fantastically rich source of visual historic information on a unique political experiment that lasted over fourty years, and failed in the end.

I am looking forward to the next poster CD from Saur, this time on the collection of the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin.

home   other reviews  page created on October 4, 1999 / this section is part of Rene Wanner's Poster Page /