A new exhibition at the Marat Guelman gallery in Moscow features a series of drawings of male nude models that the Soviet leader defaced with rude comments.
The comments include such philosophical gems as “Don’t sit with a bare ass on stones.” and “One thinking fool is worse than 10 enemies.”
Other images bear chatty, mocking comments to ex-comrades of the Communist Party. One drawing of a slim, older man says, “Why are you so thin, Mikhail Ivanovich? Do some work. Masturbation is not work. Try Marxisim!”
This may have been a reference to Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin, a member of Stalin’s inner circle who had died in 1946 and who actually looks a bit like the guy in the drawing.
The prints come from a series issued in the late 1940s, when Stalin was aged about 70. They were preserved by members of the KGB who worked with Stalin and the handwriting has been authenticated by the Russian Interior Ministry. Many of the images bear Stalin’s signature.
Just why Stalin felt compelled to write these sayings and chat with his dead comrades on pictures of nude men is a but of a mystery. Perhaps it was his way of relieving the strain after helping to defeat Hitler and killing millions of his own people.
The exhibition is only on for one week, so if you’re not passing through Moscow at the moment check out this series of photos.