Recently I've been looking at a lot of propagandga posters. It seems that 1968 was an especially fruitful year for them. Likely because of all the turmoil that happened in '68: assassignations of ML King Jr, Robert Kennedy, the capture of the USS Pueblo by the North Koreans, the Tet Offensive, violence during the Democratic Convention in Chicago. But the student riots in Paris in May of that year produced some the best silkscreen poster art seen in some time. Many of these images became iconic symbols to be wrapped into other forms of protest. Late in the summer of '68, two American sprinters, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, would spin the heads of conservatives into the ground as they attempted to raise consciousness about human rights by raising their gloved hands during an Olympic medal ceremony.
A lot of the protest works that really stand out from 1968 have very simple, but very compelling imagery and messages. Black and white white screen prints by largely unknown artists on topics such as uncensored information, protesting warmongers, and basic human rights.This approach was in great contrast to earlier WPA propaganda posters where professional artists relied heavily on complex imagery and layering to create distinct visual identity. Some of this style difference is surely attributable to the self-funded nature of the student protests versus government funded professionally trained artists of the WPA.
|French Prime Minister, Charles De Gaule, was a favorite target of satirists.|
Around the same time, in Washington Reverend Ralph Abernathy was leading the Poor People's Campaign and march. The image below, produced by the Southern Christian Leadership Committee, displays a similar design approach to those seen in France about the same time: clear, sparse, and effective.