Sunday, 12 December 2010

The Art of Revolution - Dugald Stermer and Susan Sontag

Dugald Stermer was art director for the left-leaning Ramparts magazine during the late 60s and came across Cuban posters when Reese Erlich, a reporter on the magazine returned from Cuba with a collection that he had acquired. Following this discovery Dugald put together a subsequent collection and produced this classic book on Cuban posters using his own text covering details of the agencies that were producing posters in Cuba. Susan Sontag also contributed text offering her views on poster production (which differ from mine in many ways).

The book itself is the best record of Cuban posters. It is a very large book and all the images are full colour reproductions covering a single page each. I guess this is the result of Dugald's influence. As a passionate and enthusiastic art director he must have been keen to preserve them in as big a format as possible. When I asked Dugald what happened to the posters they used for the book he told me they were left behind at the publishers, where they may have ended up in the bin.

If you collect Cuban posters this book is essential.
96 posters from Cuba

Havana 1970

Havana 1970

Havana 1970

El Nino del Ingenio - Reboiro 1968

Reboiro borrows heavily from San Francisco psychedelic art for this rarity of a poster for a Brasilian film about a boy sent to live on a sugar cane plantation in colonial Brazil. Menino de Engenho (Plantation Boy) is long forgotten black and white film with a serious message about the exploitative economics of an imperialist regime. Reboiro's decision to copy the poster art of San Francisco (which was almost certainly unavailable via any official channels in Cuba) is a statement of non-conformity by an artist who had seen his family's livelihood suffer under the revolution. The freedom that the Cuban film poster artists enjoyed under their guardian and protector Saul Yellin allowed them to draw on artistic styles that were anathema to the Cuban government. Once again this is a poster promoting a serious black and white socialist film using a flamboyant, confident and colourful design.
El Nino del Ingenio icaic reboiro 1968