ARTBOOK LOGO

ARTBOOK BLOG

RECENT POSTS

DATE 3/24/2019

Celebrating Tintoretto through the eyes of John Ruskin

DATE 3/23/2019

Exhibition of the decade 'Soul of a Nation' opens at The Broad

DATE 3/22/2019

Honoring Yoko Ono

DATE 3/21/2019

Productive agitation and passionate enthusiasm in 'Gio Ponti: Archi-Designer'

DATE 3/20/2019

Vince Aletti signing 'The Disco Files' in the MoMA PS1 Book Space during Come Together Music Festival and Label Market

DATE 3/20/2019

An entire galaxy of romantic whims in 'Ralph Eugene Meatyard: Stages for Being'

DATE 3/19/2019

Mind-unbending 'Spectacle of Illusion' excerpted in the 'Financial Times.' Pre-order now!

DATE 3/18/2019

Revisiting the most spectacular unsolved art heist of all time with Kota Ezawa's 'The Crime of Art'

DATE 3/17/2019

'Mary Swanzy: Voyages' revives a pioneer of Irish Modernism

DATE 3/16/2019

'Charles James: The Couture Secrets of Shape' talk and signing at FIT

DATE 3/15/2019

Not a boring word or image to be found in 'Walks to the Paradise Garden: A Lowdown Southern Odyssey'

DATE 3/14/2019

Embracing the Nude: Reilly Davidson on Kanye West's 'Yeezy Season 6' Zine

DATE 3/14/2019

Celebrate Lars Müller's new Bauhaus facsimile publications at the Schindler House, West Hollywood

DATE 3/13/2019

Radical intimacy in 'Araki: Impossible Love'

DATE 3/13/2019

Come to the Artbook @ MoMA PS1 Fifth-Annual Bookstore Stoop Sale: The Biggest Yet!

DATE 3/12/2019

Genre-redefining survey 'Landscape Painting Now' releases this month. Pre-order now!

DATE 3/11/2019

High design humor in 'The Danish Chair'

DATE 3/9/2019

Lars Müller's 'Bauhaus Journal' facsimile edition is a landmark in design publishing

DATE 3/9/2019

Artbook at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles presents Tosh Berman and Claudia Bohn-Spector on 'TOSH: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World'

DATE 3/8/2019

Love, pain, food, art and longing in Dorothy Iannone's 1969 Cookbook

DATE 3/7/2019

At last, Dorothy Iannone's suggestive and confessional—yet totally legit—1969 cookbook is available in this facsimile edition

DATE 3/7/2019

Remembering Carolee Schneemann

DATE 3/6/2019

Chaos and affirmation in 'Louise Bourgeois: Spiral'

DATE 3/5/2019

The anatomical drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, published upon the quincentennial of his death

DATE 3/4/2019

"Transcendental homelessness" in 'Siah Armajani: Follow This Line'

DATE 3/3/2019

Celebrate Women's History with this landmark survey of Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico photographs

DATE 3/2/2019

We're celebrating Women's History Month with Graciela Iturbide

DATE 3/2/2019

'Dirk Denison 10 Houses' conversation & book launch at Artbook at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles

DATE 3/1/2019

Celebrate the end of Black History Month and the beginning of Women's History Month with 'Betye Saar: Uneasy Dancer'

DATE 3/1/2019

Just a few of the women who have blown our minds—in celebration of Women's History Month, 2019

DATE 2/28/2019

Unstoppable genius in Jason Moran

DATE 2/27/2019

A new, expanded edition of Hiroshi Sugimoto's classic 'Seascapes'

DATE 2/26/2019

Dafi Kühne Book Signing and Conversation with Lars Müller and Gloria Kondrup at Arcana

DATE 2/26/2019

Jean-Philippe Delhomme to launch 'Artists' Instagrams' at Bookmarc NYC

DATE 2/26/2019

Black Dada, Malcolm X and the refusal of representation in 'Adam Pendleton: Our Ideas'

DATE 2/25/2019

Spitfire muses in Mickalene Thomas's 'I Can't See You Without Me'

DATE 2/23/2019

Tapping in to Jacob Lawrence’s seminal series on the #GreatMigration for Black History Month 2019

DATE 2/23/2019

Artbook @ MoMA PS1 presents Tosh Berman and Andrew Lampert on Growing Up in Wallace Berman’s World

DATE 2/22/2019

Printed Matter book party for Eileen Quinlan, Ed Steck & Robert Fitterman

DATE 2/22/2019

The work of Gordon Parks is, in fact, a celebration of Black History

DATE 2/21/2019

Piotr Uklanski to sign 'Pornalikes' at Dashwood

DATE 2/21/2019

In memory of our friend and colleague, Xavier Barral

DATE 2/21/2019

Adam Pendleton reading and signing at Mast

DATE 2/20/2019

The world has lost a legend in Karl Lagerfeld (1933–2019)

DATE 2/19/2019

Celebrate today's Supermoon with 'The Moon: From Inner Worlds to Outer Space'

DATE 2/18/2019

Celebrating Presidents Day with 'Photographs of Abraham Lincoln'

DATE 2/17/2019

Get 'Mike Kelley: 99,9998% Remaining' at our Frieze Los Angeles bookstore

DATE 2/16/2019

Dennis Scholl, Kareem Tabsch & Brett Sokol present 'Shtetl in the Sun' & 'The Last Resort' at The Coral Gables Art Cinema, FL

DATE 2/16/2019

Shtetl in the Sun. What's not to love?

DATE 2/15/2019

We are smitten by Atelier Editions' 'An Atlas of Rare & Familiar Colour'

DATE 2/14/2019

Love & Hate & Other Mysteries


EXCERPTS & ESSAYS

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 9/7/2011

Soy Cuba: Cuban Cinema Posters from after the Revolution

ARTBOOK | D.A.P. is pleased to announce Soy Cuba, Trilce's outstanding collection of post-revolutionary Cuban cinema posters, spanning from the 1950s through the 1970s. Below is a selection of posters from the 1960s, alongside Steven Heller's Introduction, Recalling a Forgotten Treasure.

Soy Cuba: Cuban Cinema Posters from after the Revolution
Five Sinners, Czechoslovakia, 1965. Poster by Aldo Amador.

The posters in this book are so conceptually stunning it is hard to believe they are advertising films. Movie posters are typically mediocre and mired in clichéd imagery that unimaginative marketers believe will pique an audience’s interest. These Cuban film posters could never have been market tested or run through the typical approval wringer. If so, they would never look like this. Their very existence raises the question: Why indeed are posters produced for Hollywood USA generally so mundane, while posters promoting some of the same movies in Cuba so visually inventive? And perhaps a more perplexing question: Why have they been hidden away in the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry for so long?
Soy Cuba: Cuban Cinema Posters from after the Revolution
I Am Cuba, Cuba and Soviet Union, 1964. Poster by René Portocarrero.

Cuban political posters produced by the Organization of Solidarity of the People of Asia, Africa & Latin America (Ospaaal) have been widely exhibited and documented, but this extensive body of work has been kept virtually secret until Carole Goodman uncovered them. In the history of popular art, these posters are comparable to any major archeological find, and as momentous to the legacy of graphic design as the rediscovery in the 1970s of twenties-era Russian Constructivist film posters.
Soy Cuba: Cuban Cinema Posters from after the Revolution
Beatrice, Poland, 1965. Poster by Eduardo Muñoz Bachs.

What makes them worthy of such status (and awe) is less that they transcend the marketing conventions of the motion picture industry— which demands star-studded imagery and bloated typography. Even more essential from a socio-historical point of view is that these posters, created after the Cuban revolution in 1959, exhibit a unique graphic language that has roots in then-contemporary Europe, but ultimately developed a distinct graphic accent, which could for now be called a “Revolutionary Cuban Style.” And what a free style it is.
Soy Cuba: Cuban Cinema Posters from after the Revolution
Cyclone, Cuba, 1965. Poster by René Azcuy Cárdenas.

Like the Russian Constructivists of the twenties, and the Polish poster artists of the seventies, and even the French Atellier Populaire of 1968, this Cuban visual language expresses a youthful revolutionary zeal—not politically but aesthetically. In the Russian case, the avant garde was eventually betrayed by Soviet leaders and their demand for greater social conformity (which became Socialist Realism). This Cuban graphic style exudes a sense of individual freedom. Ironically, the freedom to produce carnivalesque movie posters in Cuba, when compared to the more rigidly proscribed poster clichés dictated by Hollywood USA, suggests that creative liberty and stylistic playfulness had more support under the real dictatorial regime rather than an iron fisted movie industry.
At first glance these gems of visual acuity and typographic expression do not follow the conventions of posters at all. The each look more like book covers and jackets. Almost each one (see “El Jueves,” “La Boda,” or “La Guerra Y La Paz”) could have major impact in a smaller format. Yet as posters they capture the eye in ways that are both demonstrative and distinctly contemplative.
Soy Cuba: Cuban Cinema Posters from after the Revolution
The 44, Czechoslovakia, 1964. Poster by Holbeín López.

I can’t take my eyes off of “El Mar.” It is the most sublime graphic design I have ever seen—no hyperbole intended. The contrasts, first of the condensed sans serif type sandwiching the ornate bifurcated “m,” then this unit next to the seemingly arbitrary silhouette of an umbrella, is curiously hypnotic. Maybe it is also the repeating pattern of soothingly colorful half-circles that draws the eye. Whatever calculus of images makes the total composition so compelling, the combination of type and abstraction results not in just a mere commercial image, but in a piece of art—assertive art.
These posters run a conceptual and formal gamut, from decorative to symbolic, from comic to serious, from expressive to surreal. “Nos Amamos Tanto” embodies all these traits into one and yet it is such a minimalist work. Minimalism works. If there is one common conceit, surrealism appears to reign. Interestingly, surrealism was widely practiced in Iron Curtain graphics throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties. The surreal tropes enable the artist and designer to mask certain visual ideas that might offend the censor’s eye. The dislocation of reality also provides greater opportunities for pictorial adventures. In addition to surrealism, economy of space is the other thing almost all these posters have in common. Even an otherwise ornate rendering like “Tulipa” is set against an open green field, allowing the abstractly sensual bikini clad figure to seemingly dance across the page. And what could be more alluring in its economy than “Rita?” This tightly cropped high contrast black and white image, says so much about the texture of the film with so little graphic information. It would be impossible to do this in Hollywood USA (where are the stars’ credits?).
Soy Cuba: Cuban Cinema Posters from after the Revolution
The Ugly Woman, Czechoslovakia, 1962. Poster by Eduardo Muñoz Bachs.

It is interesting to speculate on where and how the artists got their inspirations. “La Larga Noche del 43” is reminiscent of Saul Bass, the American graphic designer and film title pioneer who introduced expressionist minimalism to screen and poster. The delightfully sketched figure of “Beatriz” suggests the American book jacket designer Roy Kuhlman, and the symbolic “Todos Son Inocentes” has a George Guisti look—he too was known for his book jackets. As students in art school, these designers may have seen the New York Art Director’s Club or Society of Illustrators annuals. Probably, they received the Swiss Graphis magazine, which made a relentless effort to publish Eastern European/ Iron Curtain design, and essentially introduced the West to this work and vice versa.
Yet maybe the inspiration—and style—just came naturally and instinctively. The posters are so different, not just compared to Hollywood USA posters, but from Polish film and theater posters, which were at their creative peak during the sixties and seventies, that it is difficult to trace a direct link. There is no clear line between these posters and other designs in Latin or South America.
Soy Cuba: Cuban Cinema Posters from after the Revolution
A Woman Leaves, Hungary, 1964. Poster by Raymundo García Parra.

The pre-revolutionary graphic design, much of it borrowed from America and Europe, notably the Art Deco conceits that prevailed in advertisements and magazine illustration, appear to have been rejected by the film poster designers. Cuban commercial art from the twenties through to the fifties was usually quite mannered, which is not to say rigid—it was often playful with a Caribbean spirit—but these film posters avoid excessive mannerisms in favor of definite modernist art roots. Take “A Pleno So,” “El Hombre Que Debia Morir,” “Alba de Cuba,” and “El Cielo Del Haltico,” all have painterly (or collage) roots. Many appear as though they could have been designed yesterday or today and even tomorrow. Without a conformist style, they have a timeless energy. “Pisito,” with its building windows made of white letters, could easily be in a graphic design annual today—and may turn up after a designer sees it in this book. And the typographically jarring “Desarraigo” is such a contemporary idea and execution, that it is destined for the pantheon of expressive lettering.
Soy Cuba: Cuban Cinema Posters from after the Revolution
Papa Dollar, Hungary, 1962. Poster by Eduardo Muñoz Bachs.

Design archeologists have long been uncovering various one-off lost items that fit nicely into the overall history. But rarely is such a treasure as this—a collection of material so decidedly unknown—been found intact. It is always easy to edit a critical mass of material into a solid body of work, but even allowing for some lesser works, the sheer quality of this quantity of posters is incredible. And what a model of excellence these posters are for all to see—maybe even someone in Hollywood USA. Maybe some day, they’ll catch up with Cuban film posters.

Soy Cuba: Cuban Cinema Posters From After the Revolution

Soy Cuba: Cuban Cinema Posters From After the Revolution

TRILCE EDICIONES
Pbk, 9.5 x 13.5 in. / 320 pgs / 272 color.





ARTBOOK LOGO
 
 

the art world's source for books on art & culture

  

CUSTOMER SERVICE
orders@artbook.com
212 627 1999
M-F 9-5 EST

TRADE ACCOUNTS

800 338 2665

CONTACT

JOBS + INTERNSHIPS

NEW YORK
Showroom by Appointment Only
75 Broad Street, Suite 630
New York NY 10004
Tel   212 627 1999

LOS ANGELES
Showroom by Appointment Only
818 S. Broadway, Suite 700
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Tel. 323 969 8985

ARTBOOK LLC
D.A.P. | Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.


All site content Copyright C 2000-2017 by Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. and the respective publishers, authors, artists. For reproduction permissions, contact the copyright holders.

ARTBOOK AMPERSAT

The D.A.P. Catalog
www.artbook.com