Guns and books


Another interesting ‘micro-climate’ of poster design was in Cuba. As was the case in Poland, there was a strong national idiom and an elevated regard for the poster compared to more industrialized parts of the world. Unlike Poland, though, where poster art was nationalized and state-run, the Cuban posters were more of an agi-prop, do-it-yourself proposition.

Two interesting motifs that appear a lot: guns and books. Artists seems to find an inexhaustible supply of imaginative presentations for the former in particular. I would never have imagined that a poster featuring a sunset composed of receding rifles in romantic hues would fly, but there it is. Also, the gun-plus-book-together image is pretty striking in terms of how visually logical the partnership seems in retrospect. Finally, just for fun, here’s a poster likening the lot of the Cuban farm worker with her Vietnamese commie brethren– very striking contrast between black-and-white vs. color that, again, would seem difficult to pull off in concept but works very naturally here.


Top: Rene Mederos. Bottom, left to right: Arturo Alfonso Palomino, Fausino Perez, and Mederos again.

Images taken from ¡Revolucion! Cuban Poster Art by Lincoln Cushing– more images and ordering info here.

2 thoughts on “Guns and books”

  1. I guess I should be flattered that you were impressed with the Cuban designs, but it would have been better had you credited my 2003 book _Revolucion! Cuban Poster Art_ as the source. I put a lot of work into researching, photographing, and writing it. BTW, it doesn’t take a state poster apparatus to select guns as iconic – community-based independent workshops did too during the 1960s and 1970s. The political climate was different, and guns were seen as a tool for both national self-determination as well as community control of police.

  2. Hi Lincoln,

    Sorry not to credit your diligent work. I came across the images online somewhere– maybe as part of a Flickr collection, I can’t remember for sure. At the time, I was quickly grabbing them for a lecture I had to do in a few minutes for my graphic design history students and didn’t jot down the source. Only much later did I decide to comment on them for the blog. I will admit that I didn’t put much effort into tracking down the original source at this point, so I apologize for my laziness. I will add an attribution to the post and will try to get ahold of Revolucion! next time I’m in the US.

    Regarding your ‘BTW’ comment, I think we’re each making the same point. I was characterizing Cuban poster art as relatively community-based in contrast to the Polish poster industry which was more state-run. The previous blog post was about Polish posters… I’m realizing now that the sense of this post is a bit garbled if read on its own.


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