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Read about Soviet postcards dedicated to childhood and their authors in this article.

An ordinary postcard of the last century can be viewed today as an interesting artifact. A postcard, or rather the image on its face, can tell something new about the life of our parents and grandparents. And also – about the people who created it: reproductions of works of famous painters and graphic artists were printed on Soviet postcards. Many of them were created specifically for postcards.

We propose to check this statement using the example of postcards from the 1950s from the funds of the Zelenograd Museum. Created by two contemporaries, they are united by the theme of childhood.

Postcard by artist Nika Goltz

One of the most touching postcards kept in the Zelenograd Museum is “With a Newborn”, published in 1955 by the IZOGIZ publishing house. In the post-war period, the protection of motherhood and childhood became an important direction of the social policy of the USSR; babies with their mothers were often depicted on postcards and posters. If you look closely at the details of this postcard, you can see a lot of interesting things.

Around the stroller with the child (only his little hand is visible, with which he seems to greet others) a large company has gathered – perhaps a large family, or maybe the neighbors of the parents, the inhabitants of a friendly communal apartment. The gazes are directed downwards – the main character, who has recently arrived with his mother from the hospital, lies in a low carriage. Exactly such, somewhat extravagant for the present times, they were at that time – you can see similar ones in many pictures and in films of those years.

This postcard drawing was created by Moscow artist Nika Golts (1925–2012). She gained fame primarily as an illustrator of children’s books, although she graduated from the department of monumental art of the Surikov Institute and at the very beginning of her career dreamed of doing fresco painting. You can see fresco panels by Nika Golts in Moscow in the foyer of the Natalia Sats Children’s Musical Theater. This only monumental work of hers partly became a tribute to the memory of her father, the famous architect, theater artist and graphic artist Georgy Golts – two panels were made according to his sketches. Georgy Golts died tragically when his daughter was 21 years old. Nika Georgievna, then still a student, had to take care of her family.

She started working at the IZOGIZ publishing house, where she drew postcards and calendars, including those on fairy-tale themes. In parallel, the artist collaborated with other publishing houses, among which were “Soviet Russia”, “Russian book”. The postcard “Happy Newborn” refers precisely to this period.

This year became a turning point in the creative life of the artist – in 1955 Nika Georgievna came to work at the Detgiz publishing house, where she made her debut in the design of children’s literature. The book that started her career as an illustrator, The Steadfast Tin Soldier by Hans Christian Andersen, was published in 1956. Niki Goltz’s black and white fantastic illustrations introduced this tale to more than one generation of Soviet children.

Later, the artist said many times: it was then that she realized that illustration was no longer just a way of earning money and became a real vocation. At the same time, the Danish storyteller became the main author in her life. And in 2006 she received Andersen’s diploma, issued by the International Council for Children’s Books, for pictures for a collection of his fairy tales. In the homeland of the writer, by the way, they know and love Nika Goltz – several of her exhibitions have taken place in Denmark, and her works, created according to Andersen’s tales, are kept in his house-museum.

Among the foreign authors whose Russian-language editions were illustrated by the artist were Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann, Otfried Preussler, Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Most of all, Golts herself was proud of the fact that thanks to her, the phantasmagoric story “The Black Hen” by Anthony Pogorelsky reappeared on the bookshelves. After the war, she was forgotten, but the artist persuaded the publishing house to turn to this work. And of course, she herself created illustrations for him.

Black and white postcards with drawings by Nikolai Zhukov

The funds of the Zelenograd Museum contain a collection of postcards from the 1950s with pencil drawings by the artist Nikolai Zhukov. In the drawings, children play, wash their hands, have dinner, listen to fairy tales, help with the housework – in general, they are engaged in ordinary children’s affairs. The artist has always loved drawing children, but with the appearance of two daughters and a son (the eldest was born in 1943), he received rich material for artistic observations. His children became the prototypes of many of the little heroes of his drawings.

Perhaps the birth of his daughter also inspired him to create a sketch for the Medal of Motherhood, established in 1944 and intended for Soviet mothers who raised five or six children.

Like Golts, Zhukov collaborated with Detgiz and other publishing houses. One of the most famous books he illustrated is “The Story of a Real Man” by Boris Polevoy. In 1962, the book of his drawings “Children” was published, the foreword to which was written by Sergei Mikhalkov.

“I showed Zhukov’s drawings to many – and almost every mother, almost every father exclaimed:“ So this is my Volodya! This is our Marishka! .. How alive! ” And it never occurred to anyone to exclaim: “This is the same as in the photograph!” “- wrote the poet.

Zhukov showed his talent for drawing in his childhood, which he spent in Yelets: he could copy any image – from drawing on a playing card to painting. Parents bought reproductions of paintings so that their son could learn by imitating famous artists.

After school, he entered the Nizhny Novgorod Art and Industry College, which he successfully graduated in 1930. After the army, two years later, he returned to the profession – he painted advertising posters and sketches of candy wrappers, collaborated with magazines. His work was also appreciated abroad. In 1935, a competition for the best advertising poster for Intourist was held in London; the names of the finalists were not known until the very end. Imagine the surprise of the jury members when they learned that four of the five drawings included in the top five belong to one person – Nikolai Zhukov.

Zhukov is best known as a war artist. He went through the Great Patriotic War from the western border to Moscow and from Moscow to Budapest, first as a soldier, then as a correspondent and artist of the Military Artists’ Studio named after M. B. Grekov. He created front-line posters, made sketches of front-line life, portraits of soldiers. One of the most famous wartime posters, “Defend Moscow!”, Was created by him in 1941. After the war, Nikolai Nikolaevich was present as a correspondent at the Nuremberg trials, where he made more than 400 drawings. There he also met Boris Polev.

In 1967, the artists of the Studio of Military Artists named after M.B. Grekov, under the leadership of Zhukov, restored the battle panorama in the museum “Battle of Borodino”, damaged by a fire. The artist’s works are kept today in the collections of the Panorama Museum, the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Museum of the Defense of Moscow, the Pushkin Museum named after A.S. Pushkin, the State Historical Museum, the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, and many others.

These and other postcards are now presented at the online exhibition of the Zelenograd Museum “Happy childhood”… In addition to postcards from the middle of the last century, the exhibition presents photographs of playgrounds in Zelenograd, taken in the 1960s – 2000s.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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