Whether an advertisement or call to action, posters have long been used to grab a viewer’s attention. Spanning over a century of graphic design from the collection, How Posters Work, an exhibition here at the Cooper Hewitt (May 8 – November 29, 2015), celebrates the form by considering how designers turn a creative idea into a comprehensive visual vocabulary. Curated by Ellen Lupton, senior curator of contemporary design, with Caitlin Condell, assistant curator of Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design, the exhibition explores both contemporary and historic examples of poster design. From early 20th-century color lithographs to screenprinted activist posters, the show considers a diverse range of material and reflects on how processes of making and techniques of visual thinking can affect an overall design. To celebrate the opening of How Posters Work, we selected forty posters to feature on our blog as Objects of the Day. Today marks our last in this series of posts, gathered together below. We hope these stories help illuminate the Cooper Hewitt’s vast holdings in graphic design.
Oil and Water Do Not Mix: Poster, Holländische Kunstausstellung (Dutch Art Exhibition in Krefeld), 1903; Jan (Johan) Thorn-Prikker (Dutch, 1868–1932); Lithograph on white wove paper; Museum purchase from the Members Acquisitions Fund of Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, 2008-4-1.
For the Love of Letterpress: Poster, Internationale Economisch-Historische Tentoonstelling (Exhibition of International Economic History); 1929; Hendricus Wijdeveld; Block print, letterpress on cream wove paper; Museum purchase through gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt and Jacob H. Schiff and through bequest of Mrs. John Innes Kane, 2001-7-1.
Revolution in a Grid of Dots: Poster, The Reality of Our Program…Six Conditions for Victory; 1931; Gustav Klucis (Latvian, 1895–1938); Lithograph on paper; Gift of Merrill C. Berman in honor of Ellen Lupton, 2014-20-5.
Quality and Quantity: Poster, Campesinos: Para Acabar con la Especulación Solo Hay un Medio la Cooperación (Peasants: in order to stop the speculation, there is only one way, the cooperation); 1936; Vicente Canet Cabellón (Spanish, 1887 – 1951); Lithograph on paper; Gift of William P. Mangold, 1997-21-21.
Pushed Through a Screen: Poster, Admit One; 1967; Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987); Screenprint on paper; Gift of Donald Karshan, 1972-58-7.
Let’s Get Digital: Poster, Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium; 2014; Shiro Shita Saori (Japanese, b. 1990); Digital print on paper; Gift of Shiro Shita Saori, 2014-35-1.
The Rise of Risography: Poster, Monotales; 2012; Designed by Felix Pfäffli (b. 1986); Risograph on paper; Gift of Felix Pfäffli, 2015-3-2.
Masked Cowboy: Poster, Nocny Kowboj [Midnight Cowboy]; 1973; Waldemar Swierzy (Polish, 1931 – 2013); Offset lithograph on wove paper; Gift of Sara and Marc Benda, 2010-21-103.
Texturemontage: Poster, Engelberg, Trübsee, Switzerland, 1935. Two-color gravure on white wove paper. Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund. 2006-15-1.
Experimenting with Type: Poster, NR.4-Typographic Process, Typo-Zeichen [Typographic Signs], from the School of Design, Basel; 1974; Designed by Wolfgang Weingart (German, b. 1941); Offset lithograph on newsprint; Gift of Ken Friedman, 1997-19-140.
Angry Graphics: Poster, I want to kiss my boyfriend, in public, without fear.; ca. 1980; Photocopy on paper; Gift of Steven Heller and Karrie Jacobs, 1993-53-101.
The Dan Friedman Collection: Poster, Citicorp Center; Designed by Dan Friedman (American, 1945-1995); Lithograph; Gift of Various Donors, 1981-29-19.
Hand-Lettered Illuminations: Book Cover, Illuminations; 1947; Designed by Alvin Lustig (American, 1915-1955); Offset lithograph on cream shiny wove paper; Gift of Tamar Cohen and Dave Slatoff, 1993-31-165-13.
Elaine Lustig Cohen: An Interview: Book Cover, On Modern Poets; ca. 1959; Designed by Elaine Lustig Cohen (American, b. 1927); Offset lithograph on white wove paper; Gift of Tamar Cohen and Dave Slatoff, 1993-31-22.
The Animated Poster: Poster, Herbstzeitlose [Autumn Crocus], 2014. Designed by Götz Gramlich, for Patrick Forgacz (Heidelberg, Germany). Digital animation. Courtesy of the designer.
Fighting Fascism: Spanish Civil War Posters: Poster, ¡Esto es el fascismo! miseria…destrucción…persecución…y muerte (This is Fascism! Misery…destruction… persecution… and death); ca. 1935; Designed by Antonio López Padial (Spanish, 1926 – 2011);Lithograph on paper; Gift of William P. Mangold, 1997-21-10.
Parking Pattern Posters: Poster, FD-1: Flocking Diplomats NYC 1999-2002 // Violations / Hour; Designed January 2008 by Daniel Gross and Joris Maltha; Offset lithograph on white wove paper; Gift of Joris Maltha and Daniel Gross, 2009-30-1.
Battleship!: Poster, Panzerkreuzer Potemkin [Battleship Potemkin]; 1966; Designed by Hans Hillmann (German, 1925-2014); Screenprint on wove paper; Gift of Sara and Marc Benda, 2010-21-76.
Jazz Typography: Poster, Charles Gayle Solo; 2009; Designed by Niklaus Troxler; Offset lithograph on paper; Gift of Niklaus Troxler, 2009-3-1.
Posters with a Central Image: Poster, Grammo-Grafik [Record Graphics]; 1957; Designed by Gottlieb Soland; Lithograph on wove paper; Gift of Sara and Marc Benda, 2009-12-19.
Topographies: Poster, Cinema Afrika Filmtage (African Film Festival); 2006; Designed by Ralph Schraivogel; Screenprint on white wove paper; Gift of Ralph Schraivogel, 2007-15-3.
Exhibition Posters as Art: Poster, Texte court sur la possibilite de creer une veritable economie de l’equivalence [Liam Gillick], 2005. Screenprint on paper. Gift of M/M (Paris). 2015-4-2.
Blood Red Currents: Poster, Wozzeck; Jan Lenica (Polish, 1928 – 2001); 1964; Offset lithograph on paper; Museum purchase from Friends of Drawings & Prints Fund, 2013-30-1.
Bilingual Wordplay: Poster, Three Questions on Death, 2014. Designed by Sulki & Min: Sulki Choi and Min Choi for Gwangju National University of Education (Gwangju, South Korea). Offset lithograph. 59.4 × 84 cm (23 3/8 × 33 1/16 in.). Gift of Sulki & Min, 2014-21-4.
Manpower Temporary Services: Poster, Manpower Temporary Services, 1979. Designed by Lois Ehlert for Manpower International (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA). Offset lithograph. Approx. 61.1 × 45.7 cm (24 1/16 × 18 in.). Gift of Various Donors. 1981-29-96.
Blue and White: Jianping He (Chinese, b. 1973). China Image, 2004. Screenprint. 118.9 × 84.1 cm (46 13/16 × 33 1/8 in.). Gift of Jianping He, 2014-23-1.
Post-Cubist Still Life: Poster, Ro.Go.Pa.G.,1963. Designed by Karel Vaca (Czech, 1919–1989). Offset lithograph. 82 × 58.4 cm (32 5/16 × 23 in.). Gift of Sara and Marc Benda, 2010-21-5.
See No Evil: Poster, Media Literacy Is an Imagination, 2014. Shiro Shita Saori for the Ad Council Japan (Nishi-ku,Osaka, Japan). Digital print. 73 × 102.9 cm (28 3/4 × 40 1/2 in.). Gift of Shiro Shita Saori, 2014-35-3.
Poetry and Posters: Poster, Poetry Readings, 1996. Designed by Alexander Gelman (Russian, active USA, b. 1967) for Biblio’s. Screenprint. 77.8 × 52.1 cm (30 5/8 × 20 1/2 in.). Gift of Design Machine, 1998-32-15.
Monster Hands: Poster, Dziecko Rosemary [Rosemary’s Baby], 1984. Designed by Andrzej Pagowski (Polish, b. 1953). Offset lithograph. 95.3 × 67 cm (37 1/2 × 26 3/8 in.). Gift of Sara and Marc Benda, 2010-21-20.
High Contrast: Poster, The Rocky Horror Show, 1986. Art Chantry (American, b. 1954) for the Empty Space Theatre (Bakersfield, California, USA). Screenprint. 74.7 × 43.2 cm (29 7/16 × 17 in.). Gift of Art Chantry, 1995-69-42.
The Tyranny of Distance: Poster, Jonathan Jones: untitled (the tyranny of distance), 2008. Designed by Mark Gowing (Australian, b. 1970) for Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation.(Paddington, Australia). Screenprint. 84 × 51.6 cm (33 1/16 × 20 5/16 in.). Gift of Mark Gowing, 2014-32-2.
Have a Coke with Me?: Poster, Enjoy AZT, 1989. Designed by Vincent Gagliostro (American, b. 1955) and Avram Finkelstein (American, b. 1952). Screenprint. 58.6 × 48.4 cm (23 1/16 × 19 1/16 in.) Gift of Steven Heller and Karrie Jacobs, 1993-53-103.
Stripes of Another Color: Poster, Exhibition Poster for Wide White Space Gallery (Antwerp, Belgium), 1971. Designed by Daniel Buren (French, b. 1938) Offset lithograph. 52.1 × 77.5 cm (20 1/2 × 30 1/2 in.). Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment and Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program Funds, 1999-45-9.
Leaving on a Jetplane to Aspen: Poster, The Invisible City, 1972. Designed by Ivan Chermayeff (English, active USA, b. 1932) for Chermayeff & Geismar Associates (New York, New York, USA) for the International Design Conference in Aspen (Aspen, Colorado, USA). Offset lithograph. 91.4 × 61 cm (36 × 24 in.). Gift of Chermayeff and Geismar Associates, 1981-29-59.
The Left: Poster, Die Linke ins Museum, Hoffnung und Widerstand [The Left in the Museum, Hope and Resistance], 1998. Designed by Cornel Windlin (Swiss, b. 1964) and Laurent Benner (Swiss, b. 1975) for Museum für Gestaltung, Zürich (Zürich, Switzerland). Screenprints, some with stencil and black spray paint. 127.8 × 89.7 cm (50 5/16 × 35 5/16 in.) (each). Gift of Sara and Marc Benda, 2010-21-110.
Women’s Action is Women’s Power: Poster, WAC Is Watching, 1992. Designed by Marlene McCarty (American, b. 1957) for Women’s Action Coalition (New York, New York, USA). Offset lithograph. 56.9 × 56.9 cm (22 3/8 × 22 3/8 in.). Gift of Marlene McCarty, 1996-44-1.
Anatomy of a Design Process: Drawing, Spring in the Country, 1935. Brush and gouache, black ink, collaged illustration, graphite on heavy cream paper. Gift of Mrs. E. McKnight Kauffer. 1963-39-511.
Andrew Gardner is a curatorial assistant 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