Gradually, year by year and decade by decade, the importance of these two Russian designers is growing. One look at the 1997 Museum of Modern ARt catalogue shows why ( available at www.ftn-books.com). A design language that was new and fresh and one to become adapted by many in the decades to follow ( Piet Zwart, Schuitema and many dutch great designers have known of these works and at their turn were influenced in many ways.
The brothers were at their prime during the revolutionary period of politics and artistic experimentation in Moscow when there was a shift from the illustrator-as-creator to the constructor-as-creator or nonlinear-narrator-as-creator. In the visual language of the constructor or constructivist, the Stenbergs and other graphic designers and artists assembled images, such as portions of photographs and preprinted paper, that had been created by others. Thus, the Stenbergs and others realized wholly new images (or compositions) which were no longer about realism. As a result, graphic design as a modern expression eschewing traditional fine art was born in the form of the printed reproductions of collage or assemblage.
One of the causes of the avant-garde artists in the new Russia, who considered fine art to be useless, was served when the Stenbergs and others as constructors-as-creators produced posters that had a use, particularly to serve the state. (In fact, painter Nadezhda Udaltsova resigned from the UNKhUK in protest against the replacement of easel painting by use-intended industrial art.)
The Stenbergs’ radical approach was spurred by their graphic talent, their knowledge of film theory, constructivism, Malevich’s suprematism, avant-garde theater — and Bolshevik promotion of propaganda to reform the peasant class, and communicate with a widely illiterate population, which rendered commercial graphic design and advertising a desirable and honorable practice.
Radical even today, the posters by the brothers were realized within the nine-year period from 1924 to 1933, the year Georgii died at age 33.]His motorcycle hit a truck, a few months after the brothers had become Russian citizens, and “around the time that Stalin came into power, Vladimir considered it to be the work of the secret police, since independent art was being attacked under Stalin’s rule.”