Many Are Cold, but Few Are Frozen

David Lawrence's personal blog

Son of Russia: Yuri Gagarin in Mythical Art

He's always looked like Captain Kirk to me

I've always been fascinated by the Soviet Union's attempts to create new myths. Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, was a perfect subject. Young, heroic and good-looking, he was a poster child for the Soviet Union's scientific accomplishments.

 In 1993, I found a collection of cards telling the story of Gagarin's life in a bookstore in Moscow. They were printed in 1987, by which time the Soviet dream was fading fast. The images are beautiful, drawn with the same passion you would expect in religious art. When you look at them, you almost start believing.

Gagarin died in a test-plane crash when he was still young, his martyrdom propelling him to Soviet sainthood. Interestingly, the title of the card series is "Son of Russia," not "Son of the USSR."

Maybe the artist already knew that the Soviet Union would soon be history.