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Posters and Election Propaganda

A blog dedicated to the examination of communications in election campaigns, with a focus on posters

Tagged as “Bauhaus”

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Posted by Steven Seidman at 10:14AM   |  2 comments
Shepard Fairey, "Arm Yourself," Ad for Saks Fifth Avenue (Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company)

Saks Fifth Avenue hired guerilla artist Shepard Fairey recently to design advertisements, catalog covers, and shopping bags. Fairey became famous as the designer of several posters of Barack Obama during his run for the U.S. presidency, one of which was sold on Obama's Web site.

As with the Obama poster creations, Fairey's commercial work is influenced by Soviet Constructivist Art from the 1920s and 1930s, especially the work of Alexander Rodchenko, who combined photographic images, slanted perspectives, and bright, primary colors. He also borrows from the Bauhaus School, whose artists frequently used diagonal lines and lettering. These influences are evident in Fairey's ad for a slouchy bag, for example, which features an angled model with a raised fist—indicating that she is for the "rights of the people" as well as "arming" herself with a slouchy bag—along with red areas and white diagonal lines.

All of Fairey's work is propaganda, but in the best sense: it's goal is to influence an audience's emotions to promote a product, often inspiring viewers. According to Terron Schaefer, senior vice president for marketing at Saks, as quoted in The New York Times: "What we do very day, really, is propaganda." All advertising can be considered propaganda, of course. But I think that Fairey's comment about his work for Saks (also quoted in The New York Times) is more on the money when he stated that his goal was just to get attention.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 10:19AM   |  5 comments
Obama Berlin Poster-July, 2008 (www.oberholtzer-creative.com)


In July, Barack Obama’s visit to Germany was promoted with a poster that highlighted his speech in Berlin.


The design is obviously similar to those produced in the 1920s and 1930s by the Bauhaus movement, which boasted strong sans-serif typefaces and used diagonal lines and lettering to increase the dynamism of the composition. After World War I, the ideas of the Bauhaus school influenced a generation of graphic designers, including those in the political domain. An example of such a poster is one by Nico Schrier (in the lower-right box) in which a man is calling his “comrades” to “vote Red” (the color of The Netherlands' Social Democratic Workers’ Party) in the 1933 election.

Typography was taught at the Bauhaus as early as 1923, and instructor László Moholy-Nagy stated that type "must be communication in its most intense form. The emphasis must be on absolute clarity." This is evident in the sans-serif lettering in the two posters shown here.


Both posters also featured one dominant image. This works to focus the viewer's attention on a key visual, limiting competing elements, which could distract. 

 

[Thanks to Laura Larrimore for alerting me to the Obama poster.]

 

 

 

 


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