Vladimir Stenberg, Georgii Stenberg. Symphony of a Great City (Poster for the film Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt [Berlin: Symphony for a Great City], directed by Walter Ruttman). 1928

Vladimir Stenberg, Georgii Stenberg Symphony of a Great City (Poster for the film Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Großstadt [Berlin: Symphony for a Great City], directed by Walter Ruttman) 1928

  • Not on view

“Apparently there is no place where talent of an artistic or literary sort is so carefully nurtured as in Moscow,” wrote Alfred H. Barr, Jr., MoMA’s founding director, in his diary during a visit to the Russian capital in 1927–28. Constructivism, a radical new movement that married art and technology, had taken root in the new Soviet Union, bringing together practitioners across a range of disciplines, including graphic design, painting, and photography. Its revolutionary sensibility was epitomized by the film posters of the Stenberg brothers. In this period, film was cultivated by the Soviet state as a means of both political propaganda and mass communication in a country where illiteracy was common.

This poster for the 1927 film Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, an important piece of nonnarrative experimental cinema directed by the German filmmaker Walter Ruttmann, exemplifies the success of the Stenbergs’ methods. The image of a skyscraper, an architectural form then unknown to citizens of Berlin or Moscow, and a low-flying airplane appear alongside a depiction of a male figure suspended in space. Part machine, part human, he has a camera lens for an eye, while his mechanical arms wield a pen and a typewriter. A keen observer and a powerful communicator, he may be a stand-in for the filmmaker, whose cinematic ode to a city portrays life in a seething modern metropolis from dawn to dusk.

Publication excerpt from From MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Medium
Lithograph
Dimensions
41 x 27 1/4" (104 x 69 cm)
Credit
Marshall Cogan Purchase Fund
Object number
505.1987
Department
Architecture and Design

Installation views

MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos.

If you notice an error, please contact us at digital@moma.org.

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.