Selling Joe Stalin

Did Joseph Stalin invent modern marketing? That's the thesis of a new show at Frankfurt's Schirn Kunsthalle, which argues that the techniques the dictator used to promote communism in the 1930s presage those now used to sell products throughout the free world. Long before the creative directors of Western ad agencies and shortly before Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, Stalin understood how to use images to mold public opinion. "It was mass marketing," says Boris Groys, co-curator of Dream Factory Communism — the Visual Culture of the Stalin Era, at the Schirn through early January. "The difference was that Stalin's...

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