Pravda Gor’kogo kolet glaza nashim vragam [Gorky’s Truth Hurts the Eyes of Our Enemies], a poster by Viktor Deni (Victor Denisov, 1893-1946, Meritorious Art Worker of the Russian Federation). Published by OGIZ-Izogiz, Moscow, 1931. 51.5 x 36.5 cm.
Famous Russian writer Maxim Gorky was an outspoken supporter of the revolutionary movement since 1905, but after initially welcoming the 1917 October Revolution, he became disappointed with Lenin’s regime, and in 1921 went into the self-imposed exile in Italy. Stalin, who apparently admired Gorky as a writer, made it his personal priority to persuade Gorky to return to Moscow. The two started to correspond; Gorky returned for a visit in 1929, then again in 1931; on both occasions he was showered with attention and honors. Finally, at Stalin’s personal invitation, Gorky returned to Moscow permanently in 1932. As expected, his decision to endorse the achievements of the Soviet regime was hailed by the Soviet propaganda, and criticized by the regime’s opponents.
The poster dates to the 1931 visit period, when Stalin personally came with important members of Politburo in tow to listen to Gorky’s reading of his The Girl and Death, and famously declared that Gorky’s fable “is much stronger than Goethe’s Faust.” The poster’s slogan’s makes use of the Russian proverb “pravda glaza kolet” (the truth pricks one’s eyes); an English equivalent is probably “Nothing hurts like the truth.”