Thursday, November 17, 2016
Written in 1963 and published in 1964 by Ken Garland along with 20 other designers, photographers and students, the manifesto was a reaction to the staunch society of 1960s Britain and called for a return to a humanist aspect of design. It lashed out against the fast-paced and often trivial productions of mainstream advertising, calling them trivial and time-consuming. It's solution was to focus efforts of design on education and public service tasks that promoted the betterment of society.
Few art directors have had a career like George Lois. He left Doyle Dane Bernbach in 1960 at 28 to start Papert Koenig Lois because he was convinced creatives needed to be in control of everything. That shop was the first major agency to have an art director's name on its door, and it was the first togo public. But Lois regretted that move because his partners started playing it safe. He soon had enough, and in 1967 he went off on his own. In between his groundbreaking ad work, Lois designed memorable conceptual covers for Esquire Magazine.
What's Lois secret? In his own words:
1. My first commandment: The word comes first, then the visual. 2. A trend is always a trap. 3. A Big Idea can change world culture. 4. Teamwork might work in building an Amish barn, but it can’t create a Big Idea. 5. To create great work, here’s how you must spend your time: 1% inspiration, 9% perspiration, 90% justification. 6. When you know a client is dead wrong about a marketing opportunity, create a brand name that blows his mind! 7. Make your surroundings a metaphor for who you are. 8. Research is the enemy of creativity--unless it’s your own "creative" research (heh-heh). 9. Creating advertising that is icon rather than con depends on the deep belief that your message is more than the purchase of a product or service.
May Day. All with Fidel on the Square of the Revolution, CTC, 1964
Even as revolutions have lost the appeal they used to have in the 1960’s, one can still say that the Cuban Revolution was extremely popular all over the world. In fact, one can compare the Revolution to Pop art. They are both mass-driven movements. The new communist ideology considered advertising a sort of "Capitalist tool" for commercialization, a perverse form of Capitalist "brainwashing."
This apparent dislocation between advertising –adapting to the new times– and propaganda needs to be discussed further, and we don't have time to go into it right now. Suffice to say that they sometimes overlap. But in Cuba in the early 1960's propaganda was yet to find a true voice. But let’s go back a little. In 1959 the ICAIC: The Cuban Institute for Cinematographic Art and Industry and La Casa de las Américas (House of the Americas were founded).
Since the mid ‘60s, the ICAIC posters had the same format (52 x 76 cm) and technique (serigraphy) plus a group of prolific creators (Bachs, Azcuy, Ñiko and Reboiro being the leading ones), which contributed to make them a consistent group of promotional graphics that remained in existence for several decades.
Casa de las Américas, in turn, created in 1960 the journal of the same name, in which Umberto Peña worked with great creativeness from 1965 until the late 1980s.
Umberto Peña, Piiii, 1968.
Umberto Peña maintained his links with Casa for more than twenty years, in a creator-entity relationship that may be considered one of the most fruitful in the history of Cuban design, perhaps only to be compared with that of Eduardo Muñoz Bachs and his posters with ICAIC. With the large number of media designed by him, Peña contributed to Casa de las Américas what today we would call a corporative visual identity.
E. Muñoz Bachs, Mobile cinema, 1969
Oliva, Sao Paulo sociedad anónima, ICAIC, 1966
Bachs? Cerro pelado, ICAIC, 1966
Antonio Reboiro, Julieta de los espíritus, ICAIC, 1967
At its highest point the printing industry reached annual figures of 700 titles and 50 million copies, in a country with a population of around 7 million. The number of newspapers had decreased but the magazines proliferated and the new publishing houses created a varied range of book collections. The poster production shot up tremendously, with the largest part in terms of figures concentrated in three entities: ICAIC, COR and CNC, that is, film, political propaganda and cultural promotion posters (excluding movies).
These political posters presented the idea in novel forms. Either assimilating autoctonous forms as in the anonymous poster below:
International week of solidarity with Africa, 1968, OSPAAL
Felix Beltrán, Freedom for Angela Davis, 1971
Or as in this vulture-like Nixon, with an obvious influence of Jan Lenika:
René Mederos, Nixon, OSPAAAL, 1971
By way of example it can be said that when ICAIC celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1979, an exhibition was organized with the impressive title 1000 Cuban Film Posters (oddly, the most represented years were the final ones of the 65-75 decade: 1974 with 171 pieces and 1975 with 125; as to the authors, 284 posters by Eduardo Muñoz Bachs were selected). In lack of advertising, there was an increase of public welfare campaigns in which new media such as city billboards and portfolios remarkably grew in importance.
Raúl Martínez for ICAIC, 1968
Although for many years Cuba was an isolated country and the change that took place in these years had endogenous foundations, external influences should not be ignored. In 1964 Tadeusz Jodlowski, professor at the Higher Academy of Fine Arts of Warsaw traveled to Cuba to give a course to the CNC designers. This first direct meeting with the Polish school of design –so different from the U.S. aesthetic codes in vogue in Cuba since the ‘50s– was useful for the young local creators.
Elena Serrano, Che, 1967
What are the influences of the Cuban poster?
Fangor Wojciech, Bezkresne horyzonty, Horizons sans fin, 1958
Franciszek Starowieyski, Kochanek, Lekki bol, Harold Pinter, 1970
Thomas Swierzy, Jimi Hendrix, 1973
Wes Wilson, mid 1960's
Umberto Peña, Damas, 1966
Alfredo Rostgaard, Cimarron, ICAIC, 1969
Clary (Clara García), Las secretas intenciones, ICAIC, 1970
Bachs, Dos almas en pugna, ICAIC, 1973
Raul Martinez, Fidel, ICAIC, 1968
Luis Vega, El dominio del fuego, OSPAAL, 1972
Bachs, Siete novias para un soldado, ICAIC, 1973
Bachs, Cines móviles en la escuela rural, ICAIC, 1973
René Azcuy, Besos robados, ICAIC, 1970
Franciszek Starowieyski, poster for the film House under the Rocks
The socio-historical context in which the Polish Style of Poster Design flourished, consisted of oppression, regulatory rigidity, and censorship. Poland’s leading artists, professors of art, design and architecture focused their passion on one art form, the cultural advertising poster. To the people, poster art in the streets -on walls, fences and kiosks, represented hope, and the only beauty visible in their otherwise gray landscape.
The paradox of artists doing their best work under oppressive conditions arose from the demanding negotiation between Professor Henryk Tomaszewski and the Russian government at the end of WWII. Cultural Officials wanted the artists to create posters to promote cultural events such as imported U.S. films -Tomaszewski insisted, that to gain his support, and that of the artistic community and universities, the visual imagery created by the poster designers could not be censored or made to conform to the prevailing social realism style.
An agreement was reached, and a renaissance creating a new visual language using symbolism and metaphor was born. Through international biennales and graphic design competitions, Polish posters attracted international acclaim, and became one of the art world’s great stories of creativity. The recent film festival officially selected documentary film Freedom On The Fence pays tribute to this inspiring art history and homage to the now deceased decades of artists that produced these works.
Sunday, November 13, 2016
(above the pitch of Saul Bass to ATT for its logo redesign -watch and learn)
there's plenty to discuss: Lubalin, symbol signage, Stankowski's metadesign, Swiss Topography Style, advertising, propaganda, Bass film title design, Alvin Lustig, pre logo, logo, the logo masters: Rand, Bass, Chermayeff & Geismar.
Saturday, November 5, 2016
alexander liberman, vogue, 1950
we took a sweep at graphic design in between the wars: the liberatyed woman of the roaring 20's, the suffragist backlash. the stars of european graphic design: a.m. cassandre, lester beal, joseph binder, agha, liberman, mcnight kauffer, piet zmart, herbert matter, alex brodovith, the design force of neoplasticism, surrealism in cinema, poster goes to war, normal rockwell, margaret bourke white's photos, public health design, informational analysis design, design reportage...
a lot to process. pick your favorite.