In the same poster-book format as Gig Posters Vol 1 and 2, Quirk Books delivers this July, 100 Presidential Campaign Posters, a large paperback with ready-to-frame, pull-out pages offering a history of American politics shown through the visual propaganda, showboating and one-upmanship that either won or lost its candidates a place in the White House.
Maybe an unlikely subject to grace the walls of anyone but the most die-hard of political enthusiasts, (I could imagine some finding their way onto a dart board though) there are some interesting examples of campaigns carefully designed to influence the hearts and minds of American voters, either through the promotion of a candidate’s supposed ‘down to earth’ and ‘workmanlike’ sensibilities or via the adoption of pop-culture references such as Fonzie from Happy Days. Standouts for me are the etchings of the 1800’s, the stylised designs of the 1920’s and 40’s and the psychedelic approach to promoting Robert Kennedy in 1968. Jimmy Carter’s cinematic collage against the windswept stars and stripes for his 1976 campaign is a sure-fire attention grabber, but then things seem to sober up during the 80s and 90s where a bold and simplistic use of type is favoured. This minimalist approach is taken to its logical conclusion in George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign ‘W’ and then Barack Obama’s 2008 Progress poster ushers in a new wave of illustration which finishes off the book with Shepard Fairey’s iconic Hope design.
Whatever you political or aesthetic persuasion you’ll find a poster to suit, and as a reference book it’s certainly worth having on the shelf. There’s historical commentary for every poster and each is brilliantly reproduced. My only complaint would be the lack of credit for some of the designers and illustrators behind the work, but otherwise this is an enjoyable journey through American politics, and that’s a recommendation coming from someone for whom the subject of elections, politicians or politics of any kind holds a special kind of disinterest.
Presidential Campaign Posters – 100 Posters from the Library of Congress
Paperback 208 pages
28.2 x 1.7 x 35.6 cm