Jill Bugajski is a historian of American art whose research addresses propaganda, cultural exchange, reception and diplomacy between the United States and the Soviet Union in the twentieth century.

Artful Coercion: The Aesthetic Extremes of Stencil in Wartime

Fig. 1. Vladimir Lebedev, detail of A Belorussian Landscape (TASS 1017) (July 31, 1944), stencil. The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of the USSR Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, 2010.122.

In the late 1990s, when the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago was packing up to prepare for renovations, a batch of brown-paper wrapped parcels was discovered tucked into a small, hidden space above the regular storage bins. They contained posters, most of them never accessioned by the museum, presumably because at the time they were received they didn’t quite seem to be proper “prints.” Read More