Travel posters were published by Intourist, a very special company established by the Soviet government in 1929. It was responsible for managing the great majority of foreigners’ access to, and travel within, the Soviet Union. Intourist grew into one of the largest tourism organizations in the world with a network embracing hotels, restaurants, coach fleets and banking services.
However, the approach changed quickly, as the organisation’s artists adopted the art deco style that was used to advertise European destinations, drawing on European travel posters and other graphics for inspiration.
In 1931 Intourist launched a poster competition, which encouraged emerging artists to submit poster designs. Among them were Maria Nesterova-Berzina, Nikolay Zhukov and Aleksandr Zhitomrisky, and the See USSR exhibition brings them together for the first time under the term ‘Intourist artist’.
The external propaganda contrasted sharply with the imagery of the inward propaganda, a point highlighted within the exhibition. In contrast to the images of a Soviet land of leisure, elegance and glamour, these designs draw on imagery of miliary might, flight, the union of peoples and industrialisation, as exemplified in the below textile designs.