Cuban poster holds a special place in the history of graphic design due to its unique style and strong, expressive language. Cuban posters from the 60s and 70s have a lot in common with Polish Poster School as well. I had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Luigino Bardellotto, the director of Centro Studi Cartel Cubano/Bardellotto foundation about one of the largest Cuban poster collections in the world, which includes very rare, hard to obtain copies. I hope that in the future there will be a possibility of showing this impressive collection in Poland as well.
You represent the foundation ‘Centro Studi Cartel Cubano/Bardellotto’, which holds the unique collection of Cuban posters. Please tell us something about the collection, what does it contain.
Bardellotto collection consists of about 2000 pieces all dated after 1959, the year that marks the triumph of the Cuban revolution.
In those 2000 pieces, 1500 posters are divided into:
– About 800 Cultural posters (movies, theatre, etc.)
– About 700 Propaganda posters (political propaganda and/or of solidarity with other countries)
– More than 300 film sketches, and nearly 200 preparatory layouts for screen printing of a film poster
As regards film posters, there are more than 40 cases, where you could find: sketch + layout + poster, which are the 3 natural steps to produce a film poster for ICAIC (Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry).
For how long and how has this collection been created?
I begin to start to collect those posters since 2005, making more than 20 trips to Cuba. In October 2015 I founded the CSCC, (Centro Studi Cartel Cubano).
Most of the posters are beautiful vintage specimen from 60s and 70s. What characterizes Cuban posters from this period and how did they relate to political situation of Cuba back then?
Most of the posters are concentrated between the mid-1960s and the late 1970s, which is called “el periodo de oro de la grafica cubana” (gold year’s of graphics). After the armed revolution, also graphically Cuba has its revolution, as all that was produced before 1959 in the Caribbean island, belonged to graphic design studios or follow to the influence of culture and style, what was being produced in North America. After searching in the early 60’s of graphics innovation (this also due to a lack of a school graphics), will be in the mid-1960s, that Cuban posters, will find a new way of communication that made them unique in the world, for they new innovative images used. Among the most important we could find the movie posters of the ICAIC which are made with silkscreen technique products. Towards the mid-60’s, we have the posters of the OSPAAAL (Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America), that describe through their graphics the social and Political situation at that time in those 3 continents.
I see in Cuban posters many stylistic similarities to Polish Poster School. Please tell us about these connections.
After 1962, Cuba begins to be part of the Socialist bloc. Many young designer from Cuba will go to study in various countries of the Socialist bloc and vice versa, of course this including Poland. I could report the testimony of Hector Villaverde (which is currently living in Havana), who has been sent for 3 years, (early 60’s) to study in Warsaw. His teacher was the big master Henryk Tomaszewski…
Posters from the collection have already been exhibited in some prestigious venues. Where exactly?
Mira Cuba! The art of Cuban Poster – Galleria PARCO – Pordenone – Italia 2013
Hecho in Cuba / National Cinema Museum – Mole Antonelliana – Torino – Italia 2016
Cuban Poster Art – De Baile – Amsterdam – Netherland 2016
Pick one poster from the collection please (one that you especially like or find particularly interesting) and try to describe it in detail.
This is the written testimony by Antonio Perez Niko, author of the most famous posters Hasta la victoria siempre dedicated to Che Guevara:
Poster has been published in 1968. It has been realized in October 1967 at the news of the death of Che Guevara. It has been designed with a new technique for Cuba at that time. It works with an high contrast using the famous photograph of Alberto Korda and took in its final film Kodaklith, everything on an orange background. The poster was not approved at the time that it has been made. It was until January the following year, celebrating the triumph of the revolution that finally came to light your design. This was due to the insistence of the Director of the Department of propaganda María Angélica Álvarez. And it was thanks to the criterion of those who had the responsibility to publish it, that it had such rich, strong colors. (The poster has two colors: black and red-orange). It has been very reported and representative of Cuban graphic. The first version was an offset print (in very poor quality). It was only later that the screen printing technique was used to print it.
Special thanks to Marco Citron for help in the preparation of the interview and for sharing the materials.