Sunday, 22 April 2018

For Sale: Solidarity with the African American People, Douglas 1968

This classic late-60s poster features art by Emory Douglas, a member of the Black Panthers who was also responsible for the group's poster artwork featuring images of the police as oppressive pigs. This poster is simple and effective showing the beret-wearing, weaponised dudes of the Panther movement against a plain background. During the late sixties the Panthers were one of a number of revolutionary and left leaning groups that were marginalised, demonised, and in the case of the Panthers, assaulted by the American government.

I have a copy of this poster for sale. Purchase details in the sidebar.


For Sale: Power to the People George, Morante 1971

In 1971 at the height of America's challenging post-60s period of change and upheaval George Jackson was killed by a guard during an escape attempt from San Quentin prison. His studies of leftist political ideas, letters to revolutionaries and writings on Marxist theories had been published in two books, Soledad Brother and Blood in My Eye and had brought him attention from similar minded anti-authority figures across the US and Europe. His founding of the Black Guerrilla Family put him in the sights of other similar groups worldwide and his willing use of weapons as an effective tool for revolutionary change ensured that he was recognised by the authorities in Cuba.

This dramatic OSPAAAL poster of 1971 by Rafael Morante is very rare. Its simple artwork implies that some element of the culture of the USA bled out of Jackson's death as his spilled blood. As with most Cuban posters of the period it is naive, and very simple in its message and design.

This poster is for sale. See the sidebar for details.


Saturday, 10 March 2018

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.

Monday, 26 February 2018

For Sale: Lenin - Rostgaard 1970

This poster is a great example of the Cuban design aesthetic. A serious political icon of the left, hero to the Soviets, and one of the architects of socialism, regarded in near god-like mythology during 20th century in eastern bloc countries, drawn here in light hearted pop-art graphics, styled like a Peter Max whimsy or a fifth member of the Beatles during the Yellow Submarine era. This poster is everything great about Cuban graphics - Rostgaard deliberately shunning the classic iconography of sickle, star and raised fist, and using the best of the west to have a chuckle at the authorities. A true classic of the genre.

This poster is for sale. See the sidebar for details.



Tuesday, 1 September 2015

For Sale: Day of Solidarity with the People of Laos - Zarza 1969

This poster, by Rafael Zarza, features an armed resistance fighter protected by Buddha. Buddhism is the dominant religion in Laos where the communist regime embraced the religon due to the massive numbers of the local population practising it. In 1969 when this poster was issued Laos was in the midst of a secret war with US-backed military activity pitched against a complicated mix of communist anti colonial Asian and local forces. The poster is typically Cuban and very colourful, once again using pop art and local symbols to highlight a very bloody military conflict.

This poster is for sale. See sidebar for details.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Yo Voy Estudiar Para Maestro - Mederos 1971

An absolute classic of Cuban poster design, this image by Rene Mederos is beautiful and very simple with only a few colours and very simple shapes to illustrate the young Cuban girl who plans to study to be a teacher. Working with silkscreen printing compelled the Cuban designers to use flat colours and simple shapes in their designs. And although this poster is offset printed it has the look of some of the best Cuban silkscreens. It was commissioned by Editora Politica.


Tricontinental Conference Fourth Anniversary - Rostgaard 1970

This simple and playful image by Alfredo Rostgaard uses the revolutionary fighter in three colours to represent the armed struggle for freedom among the three geographic areas represented by OSPAAAL (A, A, A = Asia, Africa and Latin America). The conference was designed to further the aims of a number of communist and socialist countries including Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and was an annual event in Havana.

Day of the Heroic Guerrilla - Martínez 1971

This OSPAAAL poster celebrates the Day of the Heroic Guerrilla, when Che Guevara is remembered in Cuba the day before the anniversary of his death on the 8th October. This simple black and white illustration by Olivio Martinez is nicely brightened by the stars and swirls of the orange motif to the right. Typically the image features Che's efforts as a revolutionary fighter in the jungles of Bolivia and elswhere which ultimately led to his downfall and capture. The iconography is typical of Cuban posters including the military dress, trusty Kalashnikov rifle and ammunition.


Solidarity with the People of Mozambique - Forjans 1969

Here is a typically vibrant and interesting design from Jesus Forjans using an African doll like figure to represent the traditional, historical nature of Mozambique and the superimposed weapon to symbolise the armed revolution that was going on in 1969. During the 60s and early 70s the country saw an uprising against the Portuguese colonial government by the guerrilla forces of the Mozambique Liberation Front, backed by communist and left leaning counties including Cuba.
Typical of Cuban designs this poster is simple and colourful, using a national symbol to identify the country in terms of its local history in defiance of the ideology of the Portugese-led government of the time. Forjans has used an unusual cartoon-style method for separating the purple and blue colours using psychedelic floral motifs (detail below), something that is often seen on Cuban silkscreen posters of the time.


Sunday, 29 September 2013

Hiroshima - Unknown 1972

This is another great poster from OSPAAAL using simple pop art graphics, in this case by an unknown artist, to recall the bombing of Hiroshima in August 1945 by the American forces. The Cuban government's choice of August 6th for its day of world solidarity with the struggle of the Japanese people highlighted American aggression during a period when the Vietnam war was escalating. However in 1972 Japan, in contrast to a number of communist and socialist countries, had a democratic general election (won by the Liberal Democratic Party), a booming economy, and high levels of personal freedom. The Japanese people of 1972 may not have recognised the struggle represented by this poster.

Solidarity with the Japanese People - Garcia 1971

August 6th 1945 was the day that the US air force dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan, striking Hiroshima and killing up to 160,000 of the city's inhabitants, most of whom were civilians. The mortality rate continued to rise for months from radiation and disease but the primary cause of death was from burns. Daniel Garcia's artwork for this 1971 OSPAAAL poster is sombre and thought provoking, making use of the partially obscured face of a young Japanese citizen and burnt paper to remind the world of the horror of that day. The Cuban government's anti-American stance features heavily in its poster output but the subject matter generally focuses on the politics and events of the day. This poster recalls the events of 25 years earlier to highlight the aggression of the American government midway through the conflict in Vietnam and at a time when the American bombing was intensifying.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Invirno en Llamas - Raymundo 1968

A touch of San Fran psychedelic art lightens up this poster the way that flames light up churches in Răscoala, a Romanian film that highlights the struggle between rich and poor, religious and sectarian. A simple poster from Raymundo with a major contrast between the understated graphics of the church and the dramatic and in your face flames.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Solidarity with Latin America - Perez 1970

Asela Perez's classic design for this OSPAAAL poster looks like it was designed as a silkscreen with simple flat colours and shapes. The Cuban government believed that revolution would occur throughout Latin America, mirroring the experience of Cuba, and the design of this poster presents a unified continent, its power represented in the clenched fist and the revolutionary spirit in the rifle, held aloft. This classic image has been reused in a number of other Cuban posters.

Los Hermanastros - Bachs 1969

Bachs' poster for this 1957 Japanese production features his trademark style to illustrate the tyrannical military officer at the centre of the film. Los Hermanastros (Stepbrothers) is a critique of male dominated Japanese society. The poster artwork is restrained yet creative, using limited colours and shapes to illustrate the aggressive face of the protagonist and the bright colours of his outfit.

Tres Invencibles Samurais - Nico 1969

Here's a great poster for the 1964 Japanese film Three Outlaw Samurai (Sanbiki No Samurai) featuring wandering warrior Shiba defending the poor from the evils of the taxman. The playful artwork by Nico is typical of good silkscreen printing - using a few bold colours and simple shapes to create a bold and colourful design. The typography is typical of the late 60s and as usual with Cuban posters when the words don't fit on a single line they carry on to the next.


Londres a Go-Go - Reboiro 1968

Londres a Go-Go is The Sandwich Man, an odd British film from 1966 featuring a man who carries an advertising board round London witnessing a series of strange goings on. Reboiro's artwork is pretty and vibrant featuring a slightly psychedelic package, but doesn't relate to the plot of the film which centres around a model reunited with her boyfriend. This is still a nice poster and may well be an example of a Cuban poster design that was done without the artist actually seeing the film.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Senales Sobre la Ciudad - Nico 1969

Senales Sobre la Ciudad (Signali Nad Gradom or Signal over the City) is a 1960 Yugoslavian film about a rescue mission to save a member of the resistance during the second world war. Nico's playful imagery features the traditional helmet of the officers and colourful pop art graphics to illustrate the drama of the military operation.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

7 Hombres y una Muchacha - Azcuy - 1968

This Azcuy designed poster is wild, combining crazy colours and graphics to encapsulate the frenetic action of the film. 7 Hommes et une Garce (Seven men and a girl) is a swashbuckling French adventure set among the troops of Napoleon Bonaparte. Azcuy has managed to squeeze all seven men into the poster among the canons, explosions, costumes and flags. This poster is a classic.
 

Gigi - Nico 1969

Gigi is a sumptuous American musical set at the turn of the century. Its commentary on the lives of the wealthy and priveledged must have appealed to the Cuban authorities. This 1969 poster by Nico takes the best of San Francisco poster design and adds an art nouveau twist to present a simple but effective image.





Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Fantomas Contra Scotland Yard - Bachs 1968

A great mix of photo montage and cartoon-style imagery collide in this 1968 poster by Bachs for a French crime caper film. The plot of the film revolves around multiple disguises adopted by Fantomas, the anti-hero of a series of James Bond knock-off comedies. The poster is a classic, and simple by Bachs usual standards. This poster has been torn in half at some time in its life and put back together with tape.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

LBJ - Reboiro 1968

LBJ is a surreal documentary by Santiago Alvarez which mixes photo montage with footage of Lyndon B Johnson's background and political life. With moments of Monty Python style animation and crude juxtaposition the film attempts satire and humor while portraying LBJ as a merchant of death. The poster is a classic using the same style of photomontage, objectifying and ridiculing. Reboiro also worked on the film's imagery and is credited in the titles.


Here's the film:

Alvarez - LBJ (1968) by simpleappareil

Hasta la Victoria Siempre - Rostgaard 1968

One of the more famous Cuban posters, this 1968 poster by Rostgaard for a Santiago Alvarez documentary makes use of Korda's iconic image of Che Guevara. Hasta la Victoria Siempre (Onwards Forever to Victory) is Che's declaration of commitment to the revolutionary struggle. It's a simple pop-art style poster that places Che's iconic image in a heavy-bordered black box - a common method of displaying images of the dead in some cultures.

The film was made after Che's death to tell the story of his efforts in Bolivia to highlight the struggle of the opressed indigenous peoples and to foment revolution there. The 19 minute documentary was made quickly and makes use of photographs of Che's experiences in Bolivia cut with speeches and footage of him working among the people.

Notice the tape damage top and bottom of this poster which was given to an American visitor by Santiago Alvarez in 1968.

Here's the film:

Friday, 11 February 2011

Bela - Oliva 1969

Another psychedelic design from Oliva that references the best of San Francisco's poster art, Bela is a now obscure 1966 Russian film set in the 19th century and featuring an army officer posted to the Caucasus who falls in love with a local prince. The poster's mysterious prince looks like a sinister magician while the dashing officer on horseback dominates the colourful design. As with the most famous Cuban poster designs the style is about as far as it is possible to get from socialist realism.

Tengo 19 Anos - Reboiro 1968

Tengo 19 Anos or Ich War Neunzehn (I was 19) is an East German pro-Soviet military drama in which the protagonist recalls his time as a commander in the Red Army. As with other Reboiro posters the colourful psychedelic design, which recalls Western concert posters, belies the serious nature of the East German production. The use of the portrait in positive and negative illustrates the divided alliances of the film's hero.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

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, decadent, western design.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Ella y El - Bachs 1969


Bachs' poster for this Japanese drama Kanojo to Kare (She and He) is minimal and classy, using bold colours and simple shapes to illustrate the subjects of the film. The drama focuses on the growing stature of the female protagonist as she explores new interests and love, becoming more independent while her husband's status diminishes. Bachs illustration has her looking sassy, bold, colourful and in charge, while her husband is reduced to a character-less head, barely included in the design.

Pieza Inconclusa para Piano Mecanico - Reboiro 1979

Channelling the surrealists, Reboiro makes good use of his trademark etching style mixed with a 70s pop art feel to illustrate this Cuban poster for the Soviet film Neokonchennaya Pyesa dlya Mekhanicheskogo Pianino (Unfinished Piece for the Player Piano). This is a Chekov-style family love story featuring an undercurrent of political themed support for the rights of peasants and workers. It is rich in philosophy and symbolism with some strange surrealist touches. I don't know the significance of the hand holding up a hand with a hole in it but the design is superb and this is a classic poster.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Samurai Asesino - Oliva 1968

Oliva, an artist who relished in copying the style of the psychedelic poster art of San Francisco, takes a more cartoonish approach to the design of this poster. The film, Samurai Assassin is a Japanese classic of clever plotting and swordplay and the subject matter appropriately features a time of revolutionary activity which saw the power of the Japanese classes diminished. The poster uses a very playful and childlike design aesthetic to illustrate the traditional samurai sword, in contrast to the dark subject matter of the film.

La Cura y La Muchacha - Bachs 1968

This is a really nice poster by Bachs demonstrating how the most simple of Cuban poster designs can often be the most beautiful. This is a poster for the Brazilian film O Padre e a Moça (The Priest and the Girl) about a passionate relationship between a young priest and a girl in a small town. The poster isn't too subtle in its interpretation of the subject of the film - two hearts against a cross - but the execution is excellent and this is a vibrant and pretty poster design.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

La Masacre de Chicago - Navarro 1972

This poster, for the 1967 Roger Corman gangster flick The St Valentine's Day Massacre, ignores the conventions of the prohibition era tommy guns, big suits and wide brimmed hats and instead references Warhol-esq pop art. The artwork by Navarro is minimal but efective being based around the obvious heart motif, echoing the American poster (below).

Sunday, 2 May 2010

No Somos De Piedra - Nico 1969

Here's a simple and effective colourful poster from Nico for the 1968 Spanish comedy No Somos de Piedra (We are not made of Stone) which examines traditional gender roles within the Catholic chuch. The plot revolves around the use of birth control pills and looks at the financial impact of children born through unplanned pregnancies. Hence the solitary female subject of the poster positioned in insecure pose, with the title positioned in the womb.
icaic no somos de piedra

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Sokolovo - Reboiro 1976

The battle of Sokolovo in 1943 saw the Red Army and Czech forces fighting together to hold back the Nazis. The film is a war film detailing the battle and highlighting the cooperation between the Soviet and Czech forces. Reboiro's poster seems to shy away from the imagery of war altogether and focuses on the blood red flower and 70s colour scheme. There is a possibility that this was one of those days when the artist didn't have time to see the film before he designed the poster. Or Reboiro's flower symbolises the bloody union as two armies joined forces to create bloodshed and massacre in the name of victory.

Debemos Saber - Reborio 1979

Once again this a great poster for a short film that is now long forgotten. Debemos Saber (We Should Know in English) is a 15 minute documentary by Cuban director Ramos. And that's all I can find out about it. This is a shame as the image of the eerie face has a mysterious look, making the film look very interesting. Again, this is typical Reboiro making use of complex detailed black and white technical illustration and adding a colourful Cuban twist.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Roble Maxima Urgencia - Reboiro 1976

This is a great moody poster by Reboiro for Roble Maxima Urgencia which is a 1973 Romanian war film originally called Stejar Extrema Urgenta. I can't find much detail about the film so I don't know the significance of the gun on a fish hook but the image is really nice.

El Brigadista - Reboiro 1977

Another vibrant poster displaying all the cliches of Cuban film posters by Reboiro. The 1977 film El Brigadista is a feature film that highlights the early days of the Cuban revolution and the efforts of the authorities to improve literacy among the population. The flower, one of the most common metaphors for the development of the people in Cuban poster art, is growing from the fertile bed of letters. Around the border is an army-style text with stars conveying the military aspect of the film's subject matter. The illustrated flower is set against Reboiro's trademark rainbow colour bands which feature in a number of his posters and are derived from psychedelic art of the late 60s.

Stylistically this is bold, confident and very colourful, representing the confidence and triumphant feel of the revolution during its heyday in the 60s and 70s. Note the missing border. Reboiro's personal collection of Cuban posters ended up with their borders cut off.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

La Vieja Dama Indigna - Bachs 1966

This early poster by Bachs is less adventurous than his work of the late 60s. It is restrained, using a standard black font and straight layout, and follows the style of many early 60s international film and cultural posters by artists such as Saul Bass. The film is The Shameless Old Lady (La Vieille Dame Indigne) a 1965 French film from a Bertold Brecht story, about an old widow who blows her life savings as she ventures into the modern world to have fun, escaping her long life of living in qualor and poverty.
bachs vieja dama icaic poster

Monday, 14 September 2009

Las Parrandas - Reboiro 1979


I know nothing about the documentary by Constante Diego but Las Parrandas is a festival of fireworks and celebration on Christmas eve in Remedios, one of Cuba's oldest towns. The partying, originally designed to encourage the locals to attend midnight mass on Christmas eve, is wild, the processions and floats are extravagant and the crowds turn out in large numbers. This poster by Antonio Reboiro uses his trademark geometric design to convey the fireworks and fiesta in a very colourful image. This poster has had its border removed.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Jornada del Guerrillero Heroico - OCLAE

This fantastic poster from OCLAE, The Organización Continental Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Estudiantes or Continental Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Students, features a contemplative Che in simple two tone, to promote the Day of the Heroic Guerilla. A great poster from one of the lesser publishers of Cuban posters. I don't know the year and I can't read the signature in the corner of this cool poster.
oclae poster cuba student

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Solidarity with Palestine - Abelenda 1968

This 1968 poster once again mixes a very serious political issue - the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine - with some inventive and bright graphics. The warm colours and psychedelic text create a positive vibe. The heroic armed character is the romantic view of the defender of Palestine. Cuban support of Palestine is typical of the anti-Western sentiment that flows through the graphics and iconography of its poster output.
ospaaal poster palestine 1968

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Solidarity with Guinea - Lazaro 1970

The 1970 invasion of Guinea by Portugeuse-led forces was an attempted coup against the government of Ahmed Sékou Touré. Cuba was openly supportive of a number of African states as they repelled imperialist European forces in their struggle for independence. In Guinea the 1970 invasion failed but sparked a period of violent repression. Typically this fun 1970 OSPAAAL poster by Abreu Lazaro uses playful pop cartoon graphics to illustrate a very serious and bloody subject.
ospaaal poster 1970 lazaro

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

For Sale: Day of the Heroic Guerilla - Martinez 1978

This OSPAAAL poster from 1978 by Olivio Martinez uses warm sun drenched colours to idolise Che whose capture by the CIA and Bolivian Special Forces in October 1967 is commemorated each year on the Day of the Heroic Guerilla. Che was killed a day later on 9th October 1967. The simple design shows a sombre Che deep in thought and gazing into the distance - a more mature image than some of the more playful Cuban posters which tend to reference pop and psychedelic art.

This poster is for sale. See sidebar for details.



Monday, 27 July 2009

Hiroshima - Mederos 1970

This OSPAAAL poster from 1970 by René Mederos features a simple but very dramatic image of a victim of Hiroshima, to commemorate the anniversary of the bombing of the city by the Americans. The simplicity of the poster and the use of crazy colours is classic Cuban - mixing dramatic imagery, pop art colours and very simple graphics to deliver a powerful message.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

For Sale: Moncada - COR

Here's a very simple poster celebrating the 18th anniversary of the attack on the barracks at Moncada by the Cuban rebels on 26th July 1953, dating it to summer 1971. I don't know any other details about the poster other than it was produced for COR, the Comisión de Orientación Revolucionaria. This example has a water stain which adds to the charm.

This poster is for sale. See the sidebar for details.



Sao Paulo Sociedad Anonima - Oliva 1968

One of my favourite Cuban posters, Sao Paulo is for a classic of the Brazilian new wave. The film depicts an anonimous and difficult city life in Sao Paulo and paints a grim picture of life there. Thanks to Oliva's superb graphics which imitate Roy Lichtenstein's cartoon style this ICAIC poster is garish and dramatic, and it probably had a hard time conveying the negativity of the film.



Here's the opening scene:

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Screenprinting at the ICAIC

I came across this short video of silkscreen poster production in progress at the ICAIC's facility in Havana.

Tricontinental magazine - images of Che

Here's a sweet little booklet from OSPAAAL's Tricontinental magazine with around 25 posters featuring Che Guevara. Printed in Cuba, the paper is thin, the printing is a bit rough but as usual the images are great.
tricontinental magazine che ospaaal

ospaaal magazine che tricontinental

che ospaaal magazine

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Elevando la Conciencia - 1974

This 1974 poster for the COR celebrates the anniversary of the triumph of the revolution with the famous image of the revolutionaries holding their weapons aloft against the Cuban flag, and a Soviet star.
cuban poster COR

Solidarity with Puerto Rico - Cordoba 1976

This great OSPAAAL poster by Rolando Cordoba is an example of the more funky Cuban pop art, borrowing its style from Western sports and pop music graphics. Puerto Rico's independence from the US was dealt a blow in the early 1970s as America took possession of more land and asserted its authority. Meanwhile the political struggle for independence continued with little success. This simple image of freedom for the common man illustrates Cuba's solidarity with the anti-imperialist movement.
cuban poster ospaaal solidarity with puerto rico