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Windows on War

The 'Windows' come from a long, Russian graphic tradition. Images and words  were used to convey information, initially to the illiterate, in the form of popular prints (the lubok).  During the Civil War (1919-1921) small posters were displayed in the windows of ROSTA (Russian Telegraph Agency) in Petrograd to convey Bolshevik policy to the citizens. Using stunning colours and skills, the artwork of the WWII 'Windows' covers a range of styles: for example, cartoon, landscape, portraiture and military scenes. They provide extraordinary examples of art and propaganda coming together. The war situation explains some of the propaganda, but the aesthetic and political impacts of this combination remain an open question.

WWII TASS Windows are easily recognisable from the logo in their top right corner, always in red, and showing the TASS sign (acronym for the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union).  They are also recognisable for their construction. An original design would be cut into squares. Shifts of copiers would then make the required number of copies of each square by  hand, and the posters were then reassembled.

There is a striking fusion of styles. The static images below cannot fully replicate the magical excitement of the website: zoom possibilities are extensive; there is full annotation; the posters can be explored right down to individual brushstrokes; the texts are translated; and some are recorded in Russian;  the artists and  text authors are written up;  and there are 'hotspots' indicating details on individual posters.

Windows and prints are being digitised and conserved, 47 from a total of 166 have so far been completed.  Research is on-going.  A team of specialists has contributed to windowsonwar: web designers; archive specialists (digital experts, conservators, keepers) from Manuscripts and Special Collections; and academic researchers from Russian and Slavonic Studies at the University of Nottingham.

  • Image of The Home Front 1
    The Home Front 1 about The Home Front 1
  • Image of The Home Front 2
    The Home Front 2 about The Home Front 2
  • Image of The Home Front 3
    The Home Front 3 about The Home Front 3
  • Image of The Home Front 4
    The Home Front 4 about The Home Front 4
  • Image of The Enemy 1
    The Enemy 1 about The Enemy 1
  • Image of The Enemy 2
    The Enemy 2 about The Enemy 2
  • Image of The Enemy 3
    The Enemy 3 about The Enemy 3
  • Image of The Enemy 4
    The Enemy 4 about The Enemy 4
  • Image of The Story 1
    The Story 1 about The Story 1
  • Image of The Story 2
    The Story 2 about The Story 2
  • Image of The Story 3
    The Story 3 about The Story 3
  • Image of The Story 4
    The Story 4 about The Story 4
  • Image of Conservation 1
    Conservation 1 about Conservation 1
  • Image of Conservation 2
    Conservation 2 about Conservation 2
  • Image of Digitisation
    Digitisation about Digitisation
  • Image of Team Work
    Team Work about Team Work