“The best political graphics today exist on the cusp of art and graphic design. The people responsible often see themselves as both artists and designers. The posters don’t look like they were done to express the views of a client, but rather to express the viewpoint of the creator. The work doesn’t exhibit the sort of cool professionalism typical of pro bono projects done by design firms. Because the designer and client are one and the same, the designer works without any emotional distance or imposed limitations.”
- Karrie Jacobs, Night Discourse (1992). Excerpt published in the book How Posters Work (2015) by Ellen Lupton
In 1987 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved AZT for the treatment of AIDS. Because the drug was both toxic and ineffective, many AIDS activists demanded that drug companies develop alternative treatments. This self-published poster compares AZT to Coke, condemning the drug as a consumer product that profited from the misery of AIDS patients.
Caitlin Condell is the Assistant Curator in the Department of Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
The exhibition How Posters Work is currently on view at Cooper Hewitt through November 15, 2015. You can learn more at the exhibition homepage and find the book How Posters Work at SHOP Cooper Hewitt. #HowPostersWork