Until the early 1990s Intourist was the official state travel agency of the Soviet Union. Founded by Joseph Stalin in 1929, Intourist was responsible for portraying the Soviet state as a holiday destination for the foreign tourist. The agency’s advertising exclusively targeted an external audience and presented an exotic, cosmopolitan, and capitalist-influenced image of the Soviet Union that was often deemed misrepresentative and inappropriate by the resident population.
The Intourist and Russian Travel section of our November sale (Lots 65–71) offers a rare selection of posters designed by various artists working for the agency in the first half of the 20th century. Produced for the English tourist market, they promote the USSR as The New Travel Land. A highlight of the collection is the advertisement for the Trans-Siberian Express (lot 69) which was promoted as ‘the shortest way between Europe and the Far East’ (12 days in total).
One of the rarest designs in the sale is By Air To USSR (lot 70) which shows the air links from Europe to the Soviet Union’s ‘chief cities’. The bright Art Deco-inspired graphics and fascinating historical context of these posters makes them important to collectors around the world.