March 2019 Exhibit:
revolutionarIES


 

Throughout history, people have used the arts as a way to spread ideas and discuss complex problems. Revolutionaries have often used posters and political cartoons to spread their messages quickly to a large audience. Frequently, the messages have involved fighting corruption in government, poverty, and a lack of personal freedoms & representation.

Not all protests end in revolutions. Some social problems can be resolved with civil resistance and negotiations, such apartheid or farmworkers strikes, or Vietnam/the draft. Sometimes the powers that be may buckle to social pressure and coercion. Demonstrations, petitions and vigils, strikes, boycotts, sit-ins, and occupations are alternatives to violence.  But they all share revolutionary ideas or a paradigm shift in thought. 

Violent revolution seems to depend on how much a government is willing to truly listen and negotiate with the demands of its people, and on whether the military sides with citizens or those in power during conflict. If there is a large amount of resistance and none of it is resolved in a peaceful way, if that discontentment and anger grows unchecked (and the institutions holding the country together are weak), then violence and civil war tends to be the result. 

This exhibit covers revolutionary and protest artwork from the United States, Russia, France, South Africa, Cuba, Syria, and Egypt.

 
Old Soldiers Never Die; Young Ones Do  poster, unknown artist, United States, 1965-1970  Opposition to US involvement in Vietnam began with mass demonstrations in 1964 that grew into a broad social movement. Opposition came from students, artists, women’s liberation, Chicano and African American civil rights groups, and sectors of organized labor. Educators, clergy members, journalists, and military veterans also joined the movement. The demonstrations were primarily peaceful and nonviolent, though protests were often met with police violence. The social movement eventually resulted in a termination of the draft, a lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18, and a withdrawal of US troops in Vietnam after an almost 20 year military entanglement.

Old Soldiers Never Die; Young Ones Do
poster, unknown artist, United States, 1965-1970

Opposition to US involvement in Vietnam began with mass demonstrations in 1964 that grew into a broad social movement. Opposition came from students, artists, women’s liberation, Chicano and African American civil rights groups, and sectors of organized labor. Educators, clergy members, journalists, and military veterans also joined the movement. The demonstrations were primarily peaceful and nonviolent, though protests were often met with police violence. The social movement eventually resulted in a termination of the draft, a lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18, and a withdrawal of US troops in Vietnam after an almost 20 year military entanglement.

¡Venceremos! (We Shall Overcome!)  poster, unknown artist, Cuba, 1970  The Cuban Revolution was an uprising conducted by the 26th of July Movement and allies against the authoritarian government of U.S.-backed president Fulgencio Batista. Batista was a widely unpopular politician who, with financial, military, and logistical support from the United States, staged a coup, and then proceeded to suspend the Cuban Constitution and revoke political liberties from civilians, including the right to strike. He censored the media and utilized secret police to torture and execute communists, killing an estimated 20,000 people.  From 1953-58 the rebels, assisted by Che Guevara and unified under Fidel Castro, fought to overthrow Batista until they succeeded in December 1958. Che Guevara became an icon of rebellion throughout the world.

¡Venceremos! (We Shall Overcome!)
poster, unknown artist, Cuba, 1970

The Cuban Revolution was an uprising conducted by the 26th of July Movement and allies against the authoritarian government of U.S.-backed president Fulgencio Batista. Batista was a widely unpopular politician who, with financial, military, and logistical support from the United States, staged a coup, and then proceeded to suspend the Cuban Constitution and revoke political liberties from civilians, including the right to strike. He censored the media and utilized secret police to torture and execute communists, killing an estimated 20,000 people.

From 1953-58 the rebels, assisted by Che Guevara and unified under Fidel Castro, fought to overthrow Batista until they succeeded in December 1958. Che Guevara became an icon of rebellion throughout the world.

The Role of Women During the Arab Spring  poster, Vanessa Vérillon, France, 2011  The Arab spring was a series of protests, armed rebellions, and civil wars against authoritarian regimes in much of the Arab world. A long history of human rights violations, corruption, extreme poverty, unemployment, and general economic decline created the ideal conditions for revolution. Leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen were overthrown; the protests in Syria have become a multi-year civil war; and Bahrain has been in a lasting state of civil disorder.  The involvement of women during the Arab Spring was in every level of activism: anti-government demonstrations, trade unions, social media, journalism. Women were vital to the movement, but the impact of their activism and participation has not met expectations as they were excluded from greater political participation.

The Role of Women During the Arab Spring
poster, Vanessa Vérillon, France, 2011

The Arab spring was a series of protests, armed rebellions, and civil wars against authoritarian regimes in much of the Arab world. A long history of human rights violations, corruption, extreme poverty, unemployment, and general economic decline created the ideal conditions for revolution. Leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen were overthrown; the protests in Syria have become a multi-year civil war; and Bahrain has been in a lasting state of civil disorder.

The involvement of women during the Arab Spring was in every level of activism: anti-government demonstrations, trade unions, social media, journalism. Women were vital to the movement, but the impact of their activism and participation has not met expectations as they were excluded from greater political participation.

Voter c'est mourir un peu (Voting is dying a little)  poster, Atelier Populaire, France, 1968  In 1968, young French students, disillusioned with the conservative Catholic government of Charles de Gaulle, held mass demonstrations and strikes across France. These strikes challenged de Gaulle’s legitimacy and he fled the country. He returned to negotiate with students and workers in an attempt to assuage resistance. Then in 1969, when his nationwide referendum vote failed to pass, he resigned, lacking sufficient support to stay in power.  The poster represents the students’ disillusionment with the electoral process and is a call to action, referencing the long history of French civil disobedience and revolutionary thought. The ballot box is depicted as a coffin and the Lorrraine Cross, a symbol of hope during WWII, is subverted, meant to represent the failures of de Gaulle’s government.

Voter c'est mourir un peu (Voting is dying a little)
poster, Atelier Populaire, France, 1968

In 1968, young French students, disillusioned with the conservative Catholic government of Charles de Gaulle, held mass demonstrations and strikes across France. These strikes challenged de Gaulle’s legitimacy and he fled the country. He returned to negotiate with students and workers in an attempt to assuage resistance. Then in 1969, when his nationwide referendum vote failed to pass, he resigned, lacking sufficient support to stay in power.

The poster represents the students’ disillusionment with the electoral process and is a call to action, referencing the long history of French civil disobedience and revolutionary thought. The ballot box is depicted as a coffin and the Lorrraine Cross, a symbol of hope during WWII, is subverted, meant to represent the failures of de Gaulle’s government.

Workers of the World, Unite!  poster, Dmitrii Stakhievich Moor, Russia, 1941  The Russian Revolution was the dismantling of the Tsarist autocratic government and the creation of the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1922. During the First World War, millions of Russian soldiers were dying and the civilian population wanted an end to Russian participation in the war. The soldiers and urban working class united as one and a period of mutinies, protests, and worker strikes ensued.  The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, campaigned for Peace, Bread, and Land: an end to the war, bread for workers, and land for peasants. They were able to topple the Tsarist government, which resulted in a power struggle between loyalists and Bolsheviks, and a five year civil war that didn’t end until 1922. It was during this period of war that most of the revolutionary art was produced by Bolshevik supporters.

Workers of the World, Unite!
poster, Dmitrii Stakhievich Moor, Russia, 1941

The Russian Revolution was the dismantling of the Tsarist autocratic government and the creation of the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1922. During the First World War, millions of Russian soldiers were dying and the civilian population wanted an end to Russian participation in the war. The soldiers and urban working class united as one and a period of mutinies, protests, and worker strikes ensued.

The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, campaigned for Peace, Bread, and Land: an end to the war, bread for workers, and land for peasants. They were able to topple the Tsarist government, which resulted in a power struggle between loyalists and Bolsheviks, and a five year civil war that didn’t end until 1922. It was during this period of war that most of the revolutionary art was produced by Bolshevik supporters.

Boycott Grapes; Support the United Farmworkers Union  poster, Xavier Viramontes, United States, 1973  The United Farmworkers grape boycott began in 1967 in protest against unsafe working conditions and low pay. Public awareness of the plight of farmworkers was made possible by efforts of Cesar Chavez, the UFW, and civil rights activists so that at its height an estimated 17 million Americans participated in the grape boycott. It went on until 1975 when the UFW won the passage of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act. To this day the UFW continues utilizing boycotts, pickets, and strikes to improve the lives of all agricultural workers.

Boycott Grapes; Support the United Farmworkers Union
poster, Xavier Viramontes, United States, 1973

The United Farmworkers grape boycott began in 1967 in protest against unsafe working conditions and low pay. Public awareness of the plight of farmworkers was made possible by efforts of Cesar Chavez, the UFW, and civil rights activists so that at its height an estimated 17 million Americans participated in the grape boycott. It went on until 1975 when the UFW won the passage of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act. To this day the UFW continues utilizing boycotts, pickets, and strikes to improve the lives of all agricultural workers.

Pyramid of Capitalist System  cartoon, Nedeljkovich, Brashich, & Kuharich, Industrial Worker, United States, 1911  The graphic was produced in 1911 by Industrial Worker, a newspaper of the U.S.-based Industrial Workers of the World. It is derived from an anonymous 1900 cartoon by the Union of Russian Socialists. The original drawing included the stanza:  “ The time will come when the people in their fury will straighten their bent backs and bring down the structure with one mighty push of their shoulders. "  The message of both cartoons is a critique of capitalism as a system that results in class stratification and a concentration of wealth. It is meant to illustrate that the working class supports all other classes, and if they withdrew their support from the system they could literally topple the existing order.

Pyramid of Capitalist System
cartoon, Nedeljkovich, Brashich, & Kuharich, Industrial Worker, United States, 1911

The graphic was produced in 1911 by Industrial Worker, a newspaper of the U.S.-based Industrial Workers of the World. It is derived from an anonymous 1900 cartoon by the Union of Russian Socialists. The original drawing included the stanza:

The time will come when the people in their fury will straighten their bent backs and bring down the structure with one mighty push of their shoulders."

The message of both cartoons is a critique of capitalism as a system that results in class stratification and a concentration of wealth. It is meant to illustrate that the working class supports all other classes, and if they withdrew their support from the system they could literally topple the existing order.

Mubarak must go!  poster, Nick Bygon, Egypt, 2011  The Egyptian Revolution in 2011, part of the greater Arab Spring, was a large-scale movement organized as a demonstration against violence and corruption that had grown drastically over Hosni Mubarak’s presidency. Millions of civilians from a broad spectrum of religious and socio-economic backgrounds united to protest high unemployment, state sanctioned violence, corruption, inflation, and low wages.  The clash of protesters and security forces resulted in almost 900 civilian casualties and over 6,000 injuries. Protesters burned police stations in retaliation to the violence, and defied a government imposed curfew. Labor unions organized strikes, and the public kept pressure on the government. As a result of the sustained civil resistance, Mubarak resigned in February 2011.

Mubarak must go!
poster, Nick Bygon, Egypt, 2011

The Egyptian Revolution in 2011, part of the greater Arab Spring, was a large-scale movement organized as a demonstration against violence and corruption that had grown drastically over Hosni Mubarak’s presidency. Millions of civilians from a broad spectrum of religious and socio-economic backgrounds united to protest high unemployment, state sanctioned violence, corruption, inflation, and low wages.

The clash of protesters and security forces resulted in almost 900 civilian casualties and over 6,000 injuries. Protesters burned police stations in retaliation to the violence, and defied a government imposed curfew. Labor unions organized strikes, and the public kept pressure on the government. As a result of the sustained civil resistance, Mubarak resigned in February 2011.

Ty zapisalsia dobrovol’tsem? (Did you volunteer?)  poster, Dmitrii Stakhievich Moor, Russia, 1920  The Russian Revolution was the dismantling of the Tsarist autocratic government and the creation of the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1922. During the First World War, millions of Russian soldiers were dying and the civilian population wanted an end to Russian participation in the war. The soldiers and urban working class united as one and a period of mutinies, protests, and worker strikes ensued.  The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, campaigned for Peace, Bread, and Land: an end to the war, bread for workers, and land for peasants. They were able to topple the Tsarist government, which resulted in a power struggle between loyalists and Bolsheviks, and a five year civil war that didn’t end until 1922. It was during this period of war that most of the revolutionary art was produced by Bolshevik supporters.

Ty zapisalsia dobrovol’tsem? (Did you volunteer?)
poster, Dmitrii Stakhievich Moor, Russia, 1920

The Russian Revolution was the dismantling of the Tsarist autocratic government and the creation of the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1922. During the First World War, millions of Russian soldiers were dying and the civilian population wanted an end to Russian participation in the war. The soldiers and urban working class united as one and a period of mutinies, protests, and worker strikes ensued.

The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, campaigned for Peace, Bread, and Land: an end to the war, bread for workers, and land for peasants. They were able to topple the Tsarist government, which resulted in a power struggle between loyalists and Bolsheviks, and a five year civil war that didn’t end until 1922. It was during this period of war that most of the revolutionary art was produced by Bolshevik supporters.

Silence is Death  poster, Avram Finkelstein, Brian Howard, Oliver Johnston, Charles Kreloff, Chris Lione, and Jorge Soccarás, United States, 1987  The pink triangle, which became a gay pride symbol in the 1970’s, was reclaimed by the gay community from its origination in Nazi Germany. Known homosexuals were forced to wear inverted pink triangle badges as identifiers, and as a result, were subjected to persecution and degradation. The appropriation of the triangle, turned upright instead of inverted, was an attempt to transform the symbol into one of solidarity instead of humiliation.  The Silence=Death movement began during the AIDs crisis in the 1980’s. The founders of the project began wheat-pasting posters all around New York City, declaring that “silence about the oppression and annihilation of gay people, then and now, must be broken as a matter of our survival”.  AIDs activists fought for acknowledgement and treatment of the disease, but they were met with prejudice and homophobia at every level of government. The slow response to the crisis by the Reagan administration had a profoundly negative affect on controlling the spread of the disease across the world, and is widely considered a black mark on Reagan’s legacy. By the end of his presidency in 1989, over 89,000 Americans had died of AIDs.

Silence is Death
poster, Avram Finkelstein, Brian Howard, Oliver Johnston, Charles Kreloff, Chris Lione, and Jorge Soccarás, United States, 1987

The pink triangle, which became a gay pride symbol in the 1970’s, was reclaimed by the gay community from its origination in Nazi Germany. Known homosexuals were forced to wear inverted pink triangle badges as identifiers, and as a result, were subjected to persecution and degradation. The appropriation of the triangle, turned upright instead of inverted, was an attempt to transform the symbol into one of solidarity instead of humiliation.

The Silence=Death movement began during the AIDs crisis in the 1980’s. The founders of the project began wheat-pasting posters all around New York City, declaring that “silence about the oppression and annihilation of gay people, then and now, must be broken as a matter of our survival”.

AIDs activists fought for acknowledgement and treatment of the disease, but they were met with prejudice and homophobia at every level of government. The slow response to the crisis by the Reagan administration had a profoundly negative affect on controlling the spread of the disease across the world, and is widely considered a black mark on Reagan’s legacy. By the end of his presidency in 1989, over 89,000 Americans had died of AIDs.

The Bloody Massacre in King Street  cartoon, Paul Revere and Henry Pelham, United States, 1770  In 1770, in an effort to enforce unpopular legislation and protect colonial officials, the British Crown sent approximately 4,000 soldiers to occupy Boston, a town of 15,000. The occupation caused a great amount of tension, eventually culminating in a confrontation between the soldiers and a mob of civilians on March 5, 1770. Bostonians hurled rocks and snowballs and beat the soldiers with clubs; soldiers responded by firing into the crowd, killing five civilians.  The event was heavily publicized by revolutionaries in an effort to encourage rebellion against the British. It was one of the first escalations in protests and violence in the lead up to the American Revolutionary War in 1775.

The Bloody Massacre in King Street
cartoon, Paul Revere and Henry Pelham, United States, 1770

In 1770, in an effort to enforce unpopular legislation and protect colonial officials, the British Crown sent approximately 4,000 soldiers to occupy Boston, a town of 15,000. The occupation caused a great amount of tension, eventually culminating in a confrontation between the soldiers and a mob of civilians on March 5, 1770. Bostonians hurled rocks and snowballs and beat the soldiers with clubs; soldiers responded by firing into the crowd, killing five civilians.

The event was heavily publicized by revolutionaries in an effort to encourage rebellion against the British. It was one of the first escalations in protests and violence in the lead up to the American Revolutionary War in 1775.

You Have Struck a Rock  poster, Judy Seidman, Medu Art Ensemble, Botswana, 1981  The apartheid in South Africa was a period of systematic, often violent, institutional racial segregation from 1948 until the early 1990's. Apartheid policies were a combination of the segregation of public facilities and social events, as well as the control of housing and employment opportunities based on race. Apartheid was met with significant domestic and international opposition, igniting one of the most influential social movements of the twentieth century.  Arms and trade embargos, global condemnation, and the strong organization of the domestic anti-apartheid movement (African National Congress) finally brought an end to segregation through bilateral negotiations.

You Have Struck a Rock
poster, Judy Seidman, Medu Art Ensemble, Botswana, 1981

The apartheid in South Africa was a period of systematic, often violent, institutional racial segregation from 1948 until the early 1990's. Apartheid policies were a combination of the segregation of public facilities and social events, as well as the control of housing and employment opportunities based on race. Apartheid was met with significant domestic and international opposition, igniting one of the most influential social movements of the twentieth century.

Arms and trade embargos, global condemnation, and the strong organization of the domestic anti-apartheid movement (African National Congress) finally brought an end to segregation through bilateral negotiations.

Anniversary of the Rebellion  poster, Felix René Mederos Pazos, Cuba, 1969  The Cuban Revolution was an uprising conducted by the 26th of July Movement and allies against the authoritarian government of U.S.-backed president Fulgencio Batista. Batista was a widely unpopular politician who, with financial, military, and logistical support from the United States, staged a coup, and then proceeded to suspend the Cuban Constitution and revoke political liberties from civilians, including the right to strike. He censored the media and utilized secret police to torture and execute communists, killing an estimated 20,000 people.  From 1953 through 1958 the rebels, assisted by Che Guevara and unified under Fidel Castro, fought to overthrow Batista until they succeeded in December 1958.

Anniversary of the Rebellion
poster, Felix René Mederos Pazos, Cuba, 1969

The Cuban Revolution was an uprising conducted by the 26th of July Movement and allies against the authoritarian government of U.S.-backed president Fulgencio Batista. Batista was a widely unpopular politician who, with financial, military, and logistical support from the United States, staged a coup, and then proceeded to suspend the Cuban Constitution and revoke political liberties from civilians, including the right to strike. He censored the media and utilized secret police to torture and execute communists, killing an estimated 20,000 people.

From 1953 through 1958 the rebels, assisted by Che Guevara and unified under Fidel Castro, fought to overthrow Batista until they succeeded in December 1958.

Syria Day of Rage  poster, Michael Thompson, Syria, 2011  The Arab Spring affected much of the Arab world, including Syria. In March 2011 the government of Bashar al-Assad faced an extreme challenge to its authority when pro-democracy protests spread throughout the country. Protesters demanded an end to the authoritarian regime and the long history of human rights violations, corruption, and extreme poverty.  The Syrian government responded to the demonstrations with police, military, and paramilitary violence against civilians. Organized opposition began to form in 2011 and the conflict has expanded into a civil war affecting the entire country, lasting into the present day.

Syria Day of Rage
poster, Michael Thompson, Syria, 2011

The Arab Spring affected much of the Arab world, including Syria. In March 2011 the government of Bashar al-Assad faced an extreme challenge to its authority when pro-democracy protests spread throughout the country. Protesters demanded an end to the authoritarian regime and the long history of human rights violations, corruption, and extreme poverty.

The Syrian government responded to the demonstrations with police, military, and paramilitary violence against civilians. Organized opposition began to form in 2011 and the conflict has expanded into a civil war affecting the entire country, lasting into the present day.