Wilhelm's Merry-Go-Round: "Outside of Paris My Army Is Being Defeated…"
This World War I propaganda poster, designed by Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935), depicts the German army defeated by the Allies on the outskirts of Paris in the fall of 1914. On the right, German soldiers are seen dying under a barrage of artillery. Gunfire belches from behind the city walls of Paris, visible in the top-left corner. In the center the figure of Kaiser Wilhelm II helplessly observes the collapse of the German offensive. The verse under the picture by Vladimir Mayakovsky reads: “Outside of Paris my army is being defeated while I run around, unable to do anything about it.” In the early stages of the war, a number of Russian avant-garde artists, including Mayakovsky, Malevich, and Aristarkh Lentulov, formed the group Segodnyashnii Lubok (Today’s lubok), which produced satirical anti-German and anti-Austrian posters and postcards to support the Russian war effort. The name originated from the traditional Russian folk prints, lubok, which combined simple pictures and narratives from popular tales. These artists adapted the style of lubok to their posters, making them readily accessible to the masses and effective as a way of strengthening national morale. The Ukrainian-born Malevich studied art in Kiev and Moscow. He experimented with realism, impressionism, and cubism before turning to what he called “suprematism,” which focused on pure geometric forms and color. Malevich explained his theory of suprematism in essays and applied it to visual works, notably the stage sets he created for Mystery Bouffe, a 1918 play by Mayakovsky. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Malevich held important administrative and teaching positions, but he came under attack after the Soviet government condemned modernist and abstract art as decadent and bourgeois. His works were largely forgotten for a time, but he is now recognized as one of the major artists of the 20th century.
Segodnyashnii Lubok, Moscow
Title in Original Language
Вильгельмова карусель: «Под парижем на краю Лупят армию мою...»
Type of Item
1 chromolithographic print
Last updated: February 2, 2015