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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 “Ray Noland”

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Posted by Steven Seidman at 1:05PM   |  2 comments
Hope Book Cover


Three books with posters that promoted Barack Obama for president of the U.S. last year have just been released:

  • Hope: A Collection of Obama Posters and Prints by Hal Elliott Wert. With more than 170 posters (many little known) from Wert's collection and a foreword by Ray Noland, the street artist who created "The Dream." Wert is a professor at the Kansas City Art Institute.
  • Design for Obama. Posters for Change: A Grassroots Anthology, edited by Spike Lee and Aaron Perry-Zucker, with an essay by Steven Heller. A selection of posters from  designforobama.org. Heller is Co-chair of the School of Visual Arts MFA Designer as Author Program and writes a column on visual design for the The New York Times Book Review. You can leaf through the book on the publisher's Web site.
  • Art for Obama: Designing Manifest Hope and the Campaign for Change, edited by Shepard Fairey and Jennifer Gross. Fairey, of course, is the controversial street artist who created the most prominent image of Obama. This collection reportedly has many collages, paintings, photo composites, prints, and computer-generated designs, with many by little known artists, as well, but also posters by Ron English and Fairey.

Posted by Steven Seidman at 2:23PM   |  2 comments
Eric Portis, "Obama!" 2008 (http://www.ericportis.com)

Eric Portis is an artist who created an interesting poster to promote Barack Obama, with copies intended to be sold on the streets of Denver, the site of the Democratic National Convention this year. His printing technique was old fashioned, seen mainly in the nineteenth century: it involved using four carved wood blocks, each one for a different color on the cardboard poster. 

Obama smiles out at us, with rays of light behind him (similar to Ray Noland's "The Dream"—seen earlier in this blog), and the Denver skyline. Under the candidate's name are a number of symbols, including an "environmental" leaf, a "health reform" bandage, and a "economic" cent.  There's also a heart, brain, and star—perhaps to symbolize compassion, astuteness, and charisma, as well as a "happy" smile and a pair of ears! The center of the "O" in Obama's name is Illinois—his home state.

Porter is 24 years old and lives in Denver. According to Hake's Americana Auctions, the artist printed 150 of these posters, which were all sold. He then "voided" the wood blocks to prevent any more of this design to be printed.


Posted by Steven Seidman at 11:15AM   |  Add a comment
Ray Noland, "The Dream," 2008 (http://gotellmama.org)


Some of the posters promoting Democratic candidate Barack Obama are vaguely familiar in their "revolutionary" design. Most are unauthorized by his campaign, in that they have been produced and disseminated by artists who support Obama, but are posting and/or selling these posters independently.

Some have termed the imagery devised for Obama as indicative of a "personality cult," similar to what artists developed for Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Che, and other authoritarian leaders. Peggy Shapiro, for instance, referring to Shepard Fairey's idealized portraits of Obama (as well as those by Russian artists of Soviet dictators), wrote that they depicted "the leader, face illuminated by 'holy' light, look[ing] off to the horizon and see[ing] the truth that is not available to his mere mortal followers, who must look up to his image." The image that Fairey created of Obama (shown previously in another post in this blog) may be "revolutionary," but it is much more subtle than the Cuban posters showing raised rifles and fists. It is a simplified portrait of the candidate with light and patriotic colors enveloping him, with the blue a lot lighter and softer than on the flag.

While there are those on the right who insist that the Democratic candidate is himself a "radical"—associating with such as William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright—there is little evidence to substantiate this allegation. What does seem to be the case is that artists such as Fairey and Ray Noland have incorporated radical imagery into their designs to promote Obama's election. Noland, for example, in his poster "The Dream," shows Obama—bathed in light—gazing into the distance, with a sun and rays as a backdrop. The iconography is religious, but similar to some Mao posters.


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