Bend like Aleksandr Deineka
Bend for ad's sake
The Soviet government issued rules that Russian artists had to follow.
Essentially, any work had to depict the world as fantastically inspiring and wonderful – despite the reality being totally opposite. It was propaganda which resulting in insipid, dull, kitsch art.
Which became known as “Socialist Realism”.
But by bending the rules whilst remaining on-brief, Aleksandr Deineka stood out from other artists, and importantly stayed in Stalin’s good books – and out of the Gulags.
Within his paintings, he flexed, twisted and bent his portrayal of life without compromising on the main product – The Soviet Union.
Warm summer tones, idyllic scenes and friendly Uncle Joe Stalin.
Just another day in the paradise…
Here’s how Deineka subverted the directive, with paintings that evoked the same heroic figures and scenes, but with modernist, abstract motifs.
Buildings at strange angles, people out of proportion, eclectic colour schemes and female empowerment based on more than just vegetable carrying ability.
Brand guidelines, tone of voice, rules around logos, art direction, casting, colours and co-ordination, government legislation, legal boundaries – all designed to keep us on track and protect the brand.
But they don’t always have to be rigidly adhered to. Here are some great rule benders:
It’s 1985. The rules around tobacco advertising are clear – no people, no copy, nothing positive is to be said about the products whatsoever.
So the clever people on the Benson & Hedges account decided to make art for the B&H Gold campaign:
Ok, it’s easy to subvert a logo when you’ve got the most famous logo in the world. But still an impressively minimal subversion – handy too!
Forgery goes hand-in-hand with big fashion brands, so why not lean into it with your own in-house bootleg drop:
What’s your favourite example of a brand bending their own rules?
Seen a good example of advertising skirting on the wrong side of the law?
Drop a comment, send a reply – and I’ll share next time.
Thanks for reading,
In Soviet Russia, podcast listens to you!
For more details about Deineka and one of the other great Alexanders of Soviet art, check out this episode of Kunst Please: