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Cuban Poster Art

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Cultural production Add comments

In preparing a lecture on Leninist propaganda (part of an intro course on the social uses of the media that proceeds historically), I searched for Soviet posters and ended up indulging my weakness for Cuban matters.

On the subject of Cuban posters, a good place to start is the book written by Bay area native and UC-Berkeley librarian Lincoln Cushing. Revolution! Cuban Poster Art (Chronicle Books 2003). The book contains informational text to accompany the high quality reproductions and so far my Cuban film course undergraduates have very much enjoyed it. Cushing also has a webpage with many images, information and links called Doc Populi. Another recent book, limited to film posters, is the bilingual Spanish-English “El Cartel de Cine Cubano, 1961-2004,” recently published in Madrid, and sold at the outrageous price of $150. Cuba’s ICAIC has also published over the years a number of books devoted to the subject of film posters. Casa de las Americas, in turn, recently hosted a comprehensive exhibit on 20th century Cuban graphic design.

On the web, a good private collection with excellent images is “The Chairman Smiles” of the International Institute of Social History, located in the Netherlands. Their collection includes, in addition to Cuban materials, Soviet and Chinese political posters. Their site has a very good bibliography (on propaganda in general, and specific to Soviet, Chinese and Cuban poster art), and good links.

The Cuban Organization for Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAL) was a major producer of these posters within Cuba. Their webpage reproduces many of theirs spanning several decades. They also have both old and new reproductions for sale.

Finally, also in English, there is a British blog, associated with the Dulwich Poster Gallery collection, called Cuban Posters. It is a very informative blog, with up to date postings and information.

You can see a sample of Cuban political posters on this video (shown to very dramatic music!):

And below is an interview with designer René Azcuy about the making of his famous poster “Besos Robados”, made in 1970 to accompany the release of Truffeau’s Stolen Kisses film in Cuba.

(Thanks to Jorge Mata for this link)

Finally, if you are in the New York area, you might want to visit the exhibit held at the Center for Cuban Studies in March-April 2010, featuring about a hundred Cuban posters:

2 Responses to “Cuban Poster Art”

  1. Hellen Buonocore Says:

    By the 1890s, poster art had widespread usage in other parts of Europe, advertising everything from bicycles to bullfights. By the end of the 19th century, during an era known as the Belle Époque, the standing of the poster as a serious artform was raised even further. Between 1895 and 1900, Jules Chéret created the Maîtres de l’Affiche (Masters of the Poster) series that became not only a commercial success, but is now seen as an important historical publication. Alphonse Mucha and Eugène Grasset were also influential poster designers of this generation, known for their Art Nouveau style and stylized figures, particularly of women. Advertisement posters became a special type of graphic art in the modern age. Poster artists such as Théophile Steinlen, Albert Guillaume, Leonetto Cappiello and others became important figures of their day, their art form transferred to magazines for advertising as well as for social and political commentary.

  2. Warren Says:

    Since politics plays such a big role in the life of a Cuban, naturally it extends into poster art.

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