Thursday, 24 April 2008

Apartheid - 1967

Another early poster from OSPAAAL, in this case raising awareness of the cruelty of South Africa's Apartheid movement. The stark black and white image is highly appropriate for the black and white politics of the regime. Cuba is a long supporter of Mandela and since the early days of the revolution has called for the end of Apartheid.
ospaaal apartheid poster cuba poster cuban

Day of the Heroic Guerrilla - Serrano 1968

In Cuba 8th October is the Day of the Heroic Guerrilla and commemorates the revolutionary life of Che Guevara, executed by the CIA on October 9th 1967. This poster is vibrant, dramatic, colourful and celebratory. Che had only been dead a year and already he was becoming an icon, a symbol of the revolution and deified as the romantic freedom fighter. This is an early example of the use of Korda's famous cropped photograph of Che. Designer Elena Serrano has used pop art stylings to merge the legend with the Latin America that the Cuban leaders believed would eventually succumb to similar revolutions.
ospaaal che guevara cuba poster cuban

Solidarity with Laos

Another photography-based and very early OSPAAAL poster highlighting the plight of Laos as it was caught up in the Vietnam conflict. The USA began bombing the country and supported the South Vietnamese army's invasion that led to a series of coups. This poster was issued before the US started a massive bombing campaign in the early 70s.
ospaaal vietnam laos cuba poster cuban

Congo L - Forjans 1968

In 1960 the Republic of Congo achieved independence from Belgium and began a move towards socialism. In the mid-sixties Prime Minister Patrick Lumumba became involved in a struggle with the chief of the armed forces Joseph Mobutu. With the military receiving funds from the US and Belgium Mobutu had the strength to mount a coup. Lumumba was eventually executed. This a dramatic photographic image of a fighter. Typical of OSPAAAL posters this 1968 poster romanticises armed struggle in the name of socialism. Congo-L refers to Congo-Léopoldville - the name of the territory once ruled by Belgium.
ospaaal zimbabwe 1967 cuba poster cuban

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Day of Solidarity with Zimbabwe - 1967

This is a simple poster from OSPAAAL highlighting Zimbabwe's struggle for independence from Great Britain. At the time the country was called Rhodesia so OSPAAAL's use of its African name is significant. Artist unknown.
ospaaal zimbabwe 1967 cuba poster cuban

Nixon - Rostgaard 1972

Here's another nice folding poster from OSPAAAL, again designed by Alfredo Rostgaard. In this case the subject is Nixon, depicted as politician on one side of this poster. When the poster is folded out Nixon, the key protagonist in the escalation of the Vietnam war, is revealed as a vampire. This is a very wild and colourful poster, referencing the psychedelia of Peter Max and the pop artists.
ospaaal cuban poster nixon cuba rostgaard

ospaaal cuban poster nixon cuba rostgaard

ospaaal cuban poster nixon cuba rostgaard

Black Panther - Rostgaard 1968

This very rare OSPAAAL folding poster designed by Alfredo Rostgaard once again uses playful graphics to highlight a very serious issue. The Black Panthers were clearly bulletproof and would fight back if attacked. A simple message of support for the Black Panthers from the Cuban government. The poster opens and unfolds to reveal the panther's roar.
black panther ospaaal poster cuba cuban

black panther ospaaal poster cuba cuban

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Cinameteca de Cuba - Morante 1985

Cinemateca de Cuba is the Cuban film festival. For the twenty fifth anniversary of the first event in 1960 the original poster was re-issued with subtle differences. Chaplin in red and the script in silver ink. Rafael Morante is the artist and his use of Chaplin, the island's icon of film, depicted in the simplest of shapes is restrained and classy.
cinemateca de cuba silkscreen icaic cuba cuban poster morante

Tierra En Trance - Reboiro 1968

I love this ICAIC film poster. It is erie and unusual. Reboiro's mysterious halftone print eye creates a very different mood to most Cuban film posters. Tierra en Trance (Earth Entranced or Terra em Transe) is a Brazilian film about bourgeois corruption. It tells the story of a conflict between popular governor and right wing dictator in Eldorado using wild camerawork.
tierra en trance silkscreen icaic cuba cuban poster reboiro

Here's a YouTube clip of the film:

Hotel Para Extraneros - Niko 1969

Niko's colourful ICAIC poster for the Czech film Hotel Para Extraneros (Hotel for Strangers or Hotel Pro Cizince) features a troubled character injured and crying out. The film reconstructs the diary of a murdered man using fantasy, symbolism and shifting time. Typical of the Czech new wave the film examines the pressure on an individual that does not conform and which ultimately leads to death.
hotel para extraneros niko silkscreen icaic cuba cuban poster

El Quid - Rostgaard 1967

El Quid (The Quid - English slang for a pound or The Knack (UK title)) is a British film about picking up hip chicks in swinging 60s London. Rostgaard nailed the design, which is simple and cool with just a hint of raunchiness.
el quid silkscreen icaic cuba cuban poster

Here's the original trailer on YouTube:

El Hijo Prodigo - Bachs 1969

A poster from Bachs that references the style of Polish movie posters, El Hijo Prodigo (Return of the Prodigal Son) is feature examining the soul of a man who attempts suicide. Bachs Cuban poster for the ICAIC centres on the man and his desire for flight or escape represented by the butterfly. The Polish poster featured below has almost the same visual idea of a dark character with bright colourful wings.
el hijo prodigo cuban poster cuba icaic silkscreen

el hijo prodigo cuban poster cuba icaic silkscreen

Viento Negro - Bachs 1968

With lots of bold colour and a very confident cartoon style this is typical of Bachs style in the late 60s. This ICAIC silkscreen is for a Mexican film about a group of men trying to prevent the railroad being built in the desert. The main character is the mayor played by David Reynoso is depicted in the poster.
icaic bachs viento negro cuban poster cuba

Sunday, 13 April 2008

The Cuban Image - Michael Chanan

Michael, who used to lecture at my old college, has written a deceptively small book with a lot of detail about Cuban films. He describes how the ICAIC came to make silkscreens through the nationalisation of a graphic studio and print facility and, in turn, spawned a flourishing art scene. Chanan describes the unique Cuban combination of politics and artistic expression with enthusiasm and with incredible detail. His knowledge and level of research about film and its place in revolutionary Cuba is incredible. There are very few poster images but the text is comprehensive.
The Cuban Image Michael Chanan icaic cuba cuban poster

The Cuban Image Michael Chanan icaic cuba cuban poster

Memories of Underdevelopment The Revolutionary Films of Cuba - Michael Myerson

The book that contains the full screenplay of the film of the title also includes some black and white images of ICAIC posters and a very short essay linking Cuban poster art to pop art and referencing Peter Max. Myerson also compares Cuban poster art to the dry socialist realism of other communist states.
cuban poster ICAIC Memories of Underdevelopment The Revolutionary Films of Cuba - Michael Myerson

cuban poster ICAIC Memories of Underdevelopment The Revolutionary Films of Cuba - Michael Myerson

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Nhung Una Muchacha de Saigon - Reboiro 1975

Another Reboiro poster and another star, in this case the star from the Vietnam flag producing a flower. Nhung Una Muchacha de Saigon (Nhung, a Young Girl From Saigon) is a 1970 film about a young girl that volunteers to fight with the Viet Cong as part of the Tet Offensive. Once again the poster is pretty and playful belying the subject matter of the film.
cuban poster ICAIC Nhung Una Muchacha de Saigon Reboiro 1975

El Sol no se Puede Tapar con un Dedo - Reboiro 1977

El Sol no se Puede Tapar con un Dedo (The Sun Cannot be Covered by a Finger) is a 1976 short documentary by prolific Cuban director Santiago Alvarez. The ICAIC poster is typical of 70s Reboiro posters featuring highly symmetrical work, and rainbow colours. A nice poster but I have no idea what the documentary is about, or the significance of the star.
cuban poster, El Sol no se Puede Tapar con un Dedo, reboiro, icaic

Exposicion de la Habana '68

This poster from the cultural agency Casa de las Americas was issued to promote the 1968 Exposicion, an exhibition of contemporary art. The '68 show featured work by lithographer and poster artist Rafael Zarza González and painter Juan Moreira.
This poster is in very poor condition and the silkscreened ink is very fragile, but that's part of its charm. I don't know the artist but the art nouveau style is great.
casa de las americas, silkscreen, cuban poster, Exposicion de la Habana '68

El Muro - Oliva 1968

Oliva's poster El Muro (The Wall or Le Mur in French) for ICAIC uses a dramatic image to depict the existential struggle at the centre of the film of one of Jean Paul Satre's short stories. The film is lost in obscurity but the story concerns the firing squad wall as metaphor for mental barriers. My poster has cracked in the corner and is held together by tape from behind.
ICAIC silkscreen Oliva el muro cuba poster cuban

Tropico - Bachs 1970

Gianni Amico's Tropico (Tropics or Tropici in Italian) is a fictional 1968 film portraying the injustice of working conditions in Brazil and the plight of the country's underclass. Bach's 1970 poster for the ICAIC features sinister and dramatic artwork using gold tributaries in the mind of the mind of the nearly faceless peasant.
ICAIC bachs tropico cuba silkscreen cuban poster

Friday, 11 April 2008

Solidarity with the Peoples of Latin America - 1969

Issued in different languages this 1969 OSPAAAL poster calls for an independent Latin America and highlights the plight of millions of children that live in poverty. The powerful image is shown in negative. Artist unknown.
OSPAAAL Solidarity Peoples of Latin America cuban poster

COR - Cuban Flag

This poster from the The Comisión de Orientación Revolucionaria (COR) translates as "they may be able to sink our boats, but not our conscience or our flag". I don't have any information about this poster but it is a great bold use of the Cuban flag - very in your face.
COR cuban poster

Guinea - Rostgaard 1971

In this poster Rostgaard has used a map of Guinea and image of Guinea's president Ahmed Sékou Touré to create a dramatic poster for OSPAAAL. Guinea was the first French African country to gain independence and under the leadership of Ahmed Sékou Touré followed broadly socialist and anti-colonial principles. From the late 60s to the mid 70s Guinea resisted French imperialism and possible CIA interference making it a natural ally of Cuba's solidarity movement.
OSPAAAL rostgaard Guinea cuban poster

Lenin - Rostgaard 1970

This poster is a great example of the Cuban design aesthetic, taking a very serious subject and creating a wild, funky and psychedelic design with it. Rostgaard told me that he was trying to emulate the look of The Beatles' artwork with this poster. What is striking about the Cuban regime is that designers were allowed to be so playful with such serious subjects. In the Soviet Union turning Lenin into an extra from The Yellow Submarine could have had you sent to the Gulag. In Cuba it was just the way that poster designers celebrated the icons of communism.
OSPAAAL lenin rostgaard cuban poster

The OSPAAAL logo

The Organisation of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America or Organización de Solidaridad con los Pueblos de Asia, África y América Latina is a Cuban political agency set up to disseminate the ideology of the Cuban Revolution. It was set up in the wake of the 1966 Tricontinental Conference in Cuba in 1966 and spreads its left leaning message via Tricontinental magazine. OSPAAAL's posters were distributed with the magazine. A number of Cuba's best designers have produced posters for the agency.
OSPAAAL's logo is particularly striking. It uses a dramatic angular design with outstretched arm clenching a gun set against a globe. I do not know who designed the logo but it still looks good 40 years after its creation.
OSPAAAL cuba logo cuban poster

Now! - Forjans 1967

Now! The rallying cry of the civil rights movement in the USA. It was also the title of the 1965 Cuban Documentary that featured images and footage of white oppression in the southern states of the US. This powerful poster by Jesus Forjans for OSPAAAL uses a very famous image of defiance and is a reminder of Cuba's support for racial and social equality.
OSPAAAL now forjans cuba cuban poster

Angela Davis - Rostgaard 1972

In 1970 Angela Davis, Communist Party member, radical and sympathiser of the black power movement that included the Black Panthers, was captured by police. Accused of being an accomplice to an attempted Black Panther escape attempt she was held until 1972 when she was tried and acquitted.

There were a number of Cuban posters celebrating the Black Panthers, and supporting the American civil rights movement. This 1972 poster by Alfredo Rostgaard celebrating Davis' release is typical of Cuban artists' reliance on visual techniques, lacking explanatory text. For such a major event (Davis arrived in Cuba to a rapturous welcome soon after her release) the lack of bright colour in this poster is a surprise.

When I visited Rostgaard in Cuba a few years ago he showed me a lot of his recent work that featured sprayed ink but this is the only poster I have seen that uses the technique.
OSPAAAL angela davis black panther cuba cuban rostgaard poster

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Crimenes Sin Castigo - Nico 1969

Crimenes Sin Castigo (Crimes Without Punishment) is, I think, a 1966 Japanese film Nihon Rhetto that focuses on corruption and black market activities among the American army based in Japan. This would explain the 1969 poster's dollar signs and the use of figures that appear trapped within the framework of currency. By all accounts the film is a bit crap but the poster is nice. Another bold design from Nico.
icaic nico cuba crimenes sin castigo cuban poster

Ukamau - Raymundo 1968

Ukamau is a film by Bolivian director Jorge Sanjines that tells the story of a peasant that exacts revenge on a rich land owner for the rape of his wife. Sanjines is part of Bolivia's militant anti-imperialist film making tradition that swept the country following the 1952 revolution there. The subject matter and political aesthetic of the film would have appealed to the Cuban revolutionary spirit.

The poster itself is unadventurous compared to some of the bolder posters of the late 60s. Raymundo isn't a prolific artist and the colours are quite muted in this poster with no figurative design. I'm tempted to link the abstract shapes in the poster to the rape that is central to the film but I'll leave that to the reader.
icaic raymundo ukamau cuba cuban poster

Les Puños en el Bolsillo - Bachs 1968

Les Puños en el Bolsillo (Fists in the Pocket or I Pugni in Tasca in Italian) is a 1965 film by Italian director Marco Bellocchio. The film concerns a disturbed young man who murders members of his family. Bachs' interpretation of the film as as simple as it gets - murder in the mind. This is very wild and colourful poster using the Orbit font and allowing parts of the words to spill over onto the next line in the title, a common feature of Cuban posters. Notice the spillage of blue ink onto the nose of the face.
icaic Les Puños en el Bolsillo Bachs 1968 cuba cuban poster

Here's a You Tube clip of the film:

El Gallo De Oro - Nico 1969

El Gallo De Oro (The Golden Rooster) is a 1964 Mexican film about cock fighting. The text on the poster is typical Bachs, with his trademark style but the crazy colours and cartoonish graphical interpretation of the subject matter in this case is by Nico. The image is clearly of roosters, presented with a touch of Picasso. Nico manages to capture the aggression of fighting roosters in a crazy cartoon aesthetic. A nice poster from 1969.
icaic El Gallo De Oro Nico 1969 cuba cuban poster

Here's a musical number from the film:

Fausto XX - Reboiro 68

A nice colourful ICAIC poster with touches of psychedelic Art Nouveau and religious overtones by Reboiro. This 1968 poster is for Faust XX, a 1966 Romanian film by Ion Popescu-Gopo who is generally known for his animation. I think this film is live action rather than animation but I can't confirm this. The plot, a comedic re-telling of the Faust legend, revolves around a professor who sells his soul to the devil.
icaic cuba cuban poster El Gallo De Oro Nico 1969

Monday, 7 April 2008

Adelaida de Juan - Pintura Cubana

Adelaida de Juan's Cuban published book - Pintura Cubana: Temas y Variaciones (Cuban Painting, Themes and Variations) is a rare Spanish language classic featuring the artistic output of Cuban artists during the revolution. Published in Havana in 1976 it is full of black and white images of great posters with a detailed history of Cuban artistic production. The book includes some very rare poster art.

icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book adelaida de juan

icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book adelaida de juan

icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book adelaida de juan

Cubaanse Affiches

Cubaanse Affiches (Cuban Posters) is a neat little book issued by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in 1971 to accompany its exhibition of posters. This is a very comprehensive and colourful book for what must have been a superb event. The text is in English and Dutch and the quality of posters is excellent. A range of very rare examples are included including the posters documenting the attempts to harvest a record crop of sugar.
icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book cubaanse affiches

icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book cubaanse affiches

icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book cubaanse affiches
icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book cubaanse affiches

Massenkunst in Kuba

Massenkunst in Kuba (Mass Media in Cuba) is a superb German language book covering Cuba's public media. Published by left leaning Elefanten Press in 1978 it documents Cuba's revolutionary imagery including its posters. Probably the most comprehensive book on Cuba's state sponsored media. Of course, I can't read it as it's entirely in german. Great images of some of the key posters of the time and descriptions of most of the poster producing agencies.

icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book Massenkunst in Kuba

icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book Massenkunst in Kuba

icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book Massenkunst in Kuba

icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book Massenkunst in Kuba

Cuba En La Graphica

A quality book published in Italy in 1991, Cuba En La Graphica is a document of the Cuban poster from the early 60s to the late 80s. It features a single page for each poster with minimal text for each. The posters featured all seem to be from colour photographs of the posters in situ. Around 100 posters are featured with a short intro by Alejo Carpentier and Reyna Maria Valdes, who quotes Adelaida de Juan and Susan Sontag.
icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book Cuba En La Graphica

icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book Cuba En La Graphica

icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book Cuba En La Graphica

icaic ospaaal cuba cuban poster book Cuba En La Graphica