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This is the first major exhibition of graphic design from Cuba’s ‘golden age’, an unprecedented show of original Cuban propaganda.

Much of Cuba’s iconic graphic design is instantly recognisable the world over. But alongside the familiar image of Che Guevara, Cuban artists have produced uncompromising design and illustration to deliver Cuba’s revolutionary message around the world. These works have rarely been seen – until now.

Designed in Cuba: Cold War Graphics brings together work distributed across the globe by OSPAAAL: Fidel Castro’s Organisation of Solidarity of the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America, an organisation founded to promote cooperation between socialist countries and liberation movements.

From 1966 until 2019, OSPAAL’s designers in Havana produced hundreds of posters and magazines that expressed solidarity with the USA’s Black Panther Party, condemned apartheid in South Africa and the Vietnam War and celebrated Latin America’s revolutionary icons. Some of their messages, such as criticism of US military bases in Guantanamo Bay and support for the unity of North and South Korea, remain pertinent today.

Throughout the Cold War, artists including Alfredo Rostgaard, Helena Serrano, Rafael Enríquez and Jane Norling produced provocative posters and bold editorial design for Tricontinental, an illustrated magazine that featured articles by radical public figures, both expected – like Che Guevara and Malcolm X – and unexpected, like Jean-Paul Sartre and Jane Fonda.

On display at the House of Illustration are over 185 works (115 posters and 70 magazines) produced by 33 designers, many of them women. All were created between 1965 and 1992, reframing the familiar story of the Cold War through a wholly unfamiliar angle.

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