Poster Plakat A Collection of Posters from the Soviet Union and its Satellite Nations

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Efimov (Fridliand), Boris Efimovich
Ефимов (Фридлянд), Борис Ефимович

Efimov (Fridliand), Boris Efimovich
Ефимов (Фридлянд), Борис Ефимович
Born Kiev, Russian Empire, 28 September 1900; died Moscow, 1 October 2008

Boris Efimovich Efimov (born Boris Efimovich Fridliand) revealed his creative industry at a young age, producing in 1916 a handmade school newspaper which featured his original drawings alongside the writings of his brother, soon-to-be journalist and social activist Mikhail Koltsov. Following a family move to Kharkov, Boris returned to Kiev in 1917 to study at the Kiev National Economic Institute and on the law faculty at Kiev State University, finishing neither program. He published his first professional cartoons in the magazine Zritel' [Viewer] in 1918, a year before he was appointed secretary of the People's Commissariat of Military Affairs of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1920, he moved to Odessa to serve as head of the Department of Visual Agitation for the Southern Department of the Russian Telegraph Agency (UgROSTA). Soon after, his cartoons appeared in such newspapers as BolshevikKommunar  [Commune Resident], and Visti [News]. Upon moving to Moscow in 1922, he began contributing to the newspapers Izvestiia [News], Pravda [Truth] and Trud [Labor], as well as the satirical magazines Chudak [Oddball] and Krokodil [Crocodile]. 

In 1939, his brother Mikhail, (a journalist with the Comintern during the Spanish Civil War) was arrested as part of the Stalinist Great Purge and was executed the following year. Following his brother's arrest, Boris was prohibited from publishing artistic work. He struggled to find employment until the Nazi invasion embroiled the Soviet Union into the Second World War. It was only then that he was permitted to return to work as an illustrator for TASS [Soviet Telegraph Agency] studio, producing a short series of posters between 1941 and 1945. After the war, he traveled to Nuremberg, Germany and produced sketches, portraits and caricatures of persons accused of war crimes. In 1966, he became editor in chief of Agitplakat, serving until 1990. He was appointed chair of the Department of Caricature at the Russian Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg in 2002, and from 2007 to 2008 served as chief artist at Izvestiia [News]. 

Efimov was considered a master of political satire and became well-decorated by the Soviet government. He was awarded the State Prize three times (1950, 1951, 1972) and named People's Artist of the USSR twice (1959, 1967), as well as a Hero of Socialist Labor (1990). He was elected to the USSR Academy of Arts (corresponding member 1954, full member 1975), and awarded the Order of Lenin (1980). He has exhibited in Moscow, Paris, Amsterdam, Oslo, New York, Prague, Helsinki, Berlin, Sofia, and Stockholm along with a host of other cities, and his works are found in the State Tret'iakov Gallery in Moscow.

Sources & Citations

Konstantin Akinsha, Robert Bird, Adam Jolles, "Biographies," Windows on the War: Soviet Tass Posters at Home and Abroad (1941-1945), ed. by Peter Kort Zegers and Douglas Druick (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011), 382.

Russkiye Khudozhniki(Moscow: Terra-Knizhnii Klub, 2001), 101.

Biobibligraphicheskii slovar' khudozhniki narodov SSSR, vol. 4(Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1970), 66-68.