Saturday, January 22, 2011

Poster of the Week

Day of Solidarity With the Congo
Alfredo Rostgaard
Organización de Solidaridad de los Pueblos de Africa, Asia y América Latina (OSPAAAL)
Offset, 1972
Havana, Cuba

Patrice Lumumba (1925–1961) was the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo after he helped win its independence from Belgium in June 1960. Lumumba’s pan-Africanism, and his political and economical vision for the Republic of the Congo, gained him many enemies in Belgium and the United States. The CIA, with the approval of President Eisenhower, ordered his assassination.

On 14 September, 1960, only ten weeks after he was elected Prime Minister, Lumumba's government was deposed in a CIA-sponsored coup led by Colonel Joseph Mobutu. On January 17, 1961—50 years ago this month—Lumumba was assassinated by a firing squad. Tens of thousands died in the subsequent civil war.

In 1965, with the help of the CIA, Mobutu seized power and ruled for over 30 years. In spite of his corruption and economic mismanagement, Mobutu had the political and military support of Western countries, which saw him as an ally against communism in Africa and amenable to corporate exploitation of Congolese resources. Mobuto was overthrown in a civil war (1997-1999) in which four million people died.

Poster of the Week Artist

Alfredo Rostgaard (1943 – 2004) was a Cuban graphic designer and artist, and one of the most prolific of the revolutionary designers that contributed to Cuba's massive output of posters during the mid 1960s to mid 1970s. Referencing Pop Art and psychedelic poster art, Rostgaard's work also includes figurative painting and Warhol-esq commercial graphics. He designed numerous posters for ICAIC (the Cuban film institute) and became art director of the Organization in Solidarity with Africa, Asia, and Latin America (OSPAAAL) from 1960 to 1975. He had numerous international exhibits and won several distinguished awards. He was a talented, witty, and prolific artist with a deep sense of social responsibility. Produced 12 years after Lumumba’s assassination, Rostgaard represented his pan-Africanism by rendering Lumumba’s face in the shape of Africa.

Patrice Lumumba: 50 Years Later, Remembering the U.S.-Backed Assassination of Congo’s First Democratically Elected Leader, Democracy Now! (Jan. 21, 2011)

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