Protest posters that defined politics and revolution over a century are going on show at Wolverhampton Art Gallery thanks to the V&A – the world-famous Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The V&A’s touring show A World to Win: Posters of Protest and Revolution opens at the Lichfield Street gallery on Saturday 30 January and features over 70 posters, from the ‘Votes for Women’ campaign of the early 20th Century to the recent Occupy movement.
It showcases the work of diverse artists, graphic designers and print collectives and includes René Mederos’s iconic poster celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.
In Britain the tradition of mass participation and direct action was popularised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) marches of the late 1950s. Posters for CND and other big ‘anti movements’ against war, apartheid and the National Front aimed to unite a broad base of public opinion.
On display are powerful works by British artists and designers Peter Kennard, David King and David Gentleman. Such posters rely on emphatic text; they shout ‘NO’, Never’, ‘Stop’ and ‘Boycott’.
Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Economy, said: “To get a touring exhibition from the V&A is great for our city and this promises to hold interest for lots of people.
"The exhibition should appeal to artists and graphic designers as well as historians, politicians, students and anyone who has an interest in how posters are used to promote all kinds of political protest.”
Many of the posters included present powerful images and punchy slogans and the exhibition explores how posters were used as tools of empowerment. More recently, in this age of globalisation, posters are produced that subvert the corporate message; they hijack big brands, alter logos and manipulate company straplines to reveal the truth behind the advertising.
The V&A has developed a collection of political posters impressive in its depth. During the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1989, V&A Curators travelled to Eastern Europe collecting posters directly from designers and gathering ephemera from the streets.
Today, political activism has embraced the digital. Campaigns and information can be easily communicated across borders; digital posters can be downloaded and printed or emailed to a global audience. A World to Win: Posters of Protest and Revolution, which is on show until 10 April, 2016, reflects these developments including digital posters from recent protests in Turkey, Ukraine and Egypt.