ARTBOOK LOGO

ARTBOOK BLOG

RECENT POSTS

DATE 11/1/2018

Talk About a Revolution

DATE 10/17/2018

Nicole R. Fleetwood on Mickalene Thomas's world making

DATE 10/16/2018

NEW from Mickalene Thomas: 'I Can’t See You Without Me'

DATE 10/15/2018

Joel Meyerowitz on 'Pancho Saula: Madagascar'

DATE 10/14/2018

Mystery is the point in Charles White's 'Black Pope'

DATE 10/13/2018

Hilma af Klint: casting fetters aside

DATE 10/13/2018

Tracey Bashkoff on Hilma af Klint

DATE 10/11/2018

Arcana presents new books from The Ice Plant and Deadbeat Club

DATE 10/11/2018

'Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future' opens tomorrow at the Guggenheim!

DATE 10/11/2018

'Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment' is Back in Stock!

DATE 10/10/2018

John Paul Jones on Led Zeppelin, acoustic sets and the mandolin

DATE 10/9/2018

Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin releases today!

DATE 10/9/2018

Jenny Hval to launch 'Paradise Rot' at MoMA PS1 Book Space

DATE 10/8/2018

Jimmy Page on Led Zeppelin

DATE 10/7/2018

Charles White retrospective opens at MoMA

DATE 10/7/2018

Louise Bourgeois at Glenstone

DATE 10/6/2018

Rachel Cobb to launch “Mistral” at Rizzoli

DATE 10/6/2018

Arthur Elgort launches Jazz at Bookmarc

DATE 10/6/2018

Robert Gober at Glenstone Museum

DATE 10/5/2018

Brice Marden at Glenstone

DATE 10/3/2018

The living testimony of a community in Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes: The Sweet Flypaper of Life

DATE 10/2/2018

Aruna D’Souza & Tomashi Jackson on 'Whitewalling: Art, Race & Protest in 3 Acts' at Hammer

DATE 10/2/2018

Jack Whitten: Odyssey is filled with inspiration

DATE 10/2/2018

'Ideas Have No Smell' launch at Printed Matter

DATE 10/1/2018

For the Ladies in the House

DATE 9/30/2018

Still puzzling: Toilet Paper 16

DATE 9/30/2018

New from FUEL! Russian Criminal Playing Cards

DATE 9/28/2018

Led Zeppelin celebrates 50 years!

DATE 9/27/2018

Women of Resistance & The Dusty Rebel at MoMA PS1 Book Space

DATE 9/27/2018

Celebrate recent publications from Jason Fulford & Tamara Shopsin at Artbook at Hauser & Wirth LA

DATE 9/26/2018

Emptiness and unease, anger and protest in 'Shomei Tomatsu'

DATE 9/25/2018

From Dexter Gordon to Dizzy Gillespie—Arthur Elgort: Jazz

DATE 9/24/2018

Add color where the world needs peace

DATE 9/24/2018

Karine Laval to launch 'Poolscapes' at SOCO

DATE 9/20/2018

Emmy Catedral on NYABF favorite, 'Ellie Ga: Square Octagon Circle'

DATE 9/19/2018

From darkness to the full power of the sun: Masahisa Fukase

DATE 9/18/2018

Better than we even dreamed: Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin

DATE 9/17/2018

Artbook @ MoMA PS1 Bookstore signings and launch events at the NYABF 2018

DATE 9/17/2018

How we love the radicality of Judson Dance Theater in 'The Work Is Never Done'

DATE 9/16/2018

Roy DeCarava's Black abstraction in Soul of a Nation

DATE 9/16/2018

'Soul of a Nation' as seismic detector, political persuader and defensive weapon

DATE 9/15/2018

It's NATION TIME! Celebrate art in the age of Black Power with 'Soul of a Nation'

DATE 9/14/2018

David Hammons' "Black First, America Second" in Soul of a Nation

DATE 9/14/2018

Celebrating Soul of a Nation

DATE 9/13/2018

Celebrate NYC Fashion Week with 'Sorolla and Fashion'

DATE 9/12/2018

Celebrate Fashion Week NYC with the game-changing photography in 'Posturing'

DATE 9/12/2018

Burt Glinn's photographs of the New York Beat Scene on view at Jason McCoy Gallery

DATE 9/12/2018

Hatje Cantz Backlist Favorites

DATE 9/11/2018

Artbook @ MoMA PS1 Bookstore presents "Les Masques" children's workshop with Louise-Marie Cumont

DATE 9/11/2018

Extreme clothing in the visual arts in 'Fashion Drive'

DATE 9/10/2018

Celebrate Fashion Week NY with Stephanie Pfriender Stylander's 'The Untamed Eye'


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