Agitate! Educate! Organize!
American Labor Posters
Lincoln Cushing and Timothy W. Drescher
$24.95, Cornell University Press, 2009
East Bay book release premiere
Thursday, May 7, 2009 6:30-9:00 PM
Alliance Graphics, 1101 8th St, Berkeley, CA (510) 845-8835
Hosted by Alliance Graphics / Middle East Children’s Alliance
San Francisco release premiere
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 7:00 PM
Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia St.
This is a fundraiser for Modern Times –
all proceeds to support the store
Here’s the copy for the book:
Despite the existence of labor images going back to some of the earliest examples of representational art, very little has been done in this country to acknowledge the contribution labor posters have made to our national culture. Other countries, including Germany, England, and Australia, take this genre seriously, but ironically it has been up to foreign scholars to produce some of the best research and successful publications on our own culture. The few books that treat these posters are either broader art exhibit catalogs or illustrated sections of books on specific labor themes, such as the history of the Industrial Workers of the World. No single U.S.-published title exists which offers a broad survey of this specific art form. The graphics themselves have experienced the general fate of other “oppositional” cultural documents, where low social status has resulted in public neglect.
Agitate! Educate! Organize! – American Labor Posters, by Lincoln Cushing and Timothy W. Drescher, begins to fill this void. Educate! Agitate! Organize! includes over 200 full-color images (from a database of over 800 posters) and roughly 20,000 words, plus a bibliography and index. The book features many important labor archives and special collections such as those listed here. Images are clustered into annotated subject areas, such as “Dignity & Exploitation,” “Race & Civil Rights,” “Internationalism & Peace,” “Organizing & Solidarity,” “Strikes & Boycotts,” “Democracy, Voting & Patriotism,” and “Heroes, Martyrs & History.” For each image the historical background is supplemented with aesthetic analysis that helps readers understand the social forces represented in the graphics as well as the cultural origins and design strategies. Although a few of the posters are by well-known artists such as Ben Shahn or Rockwell Kent, most are by less-known professional artists and amateurs. The scope includes historical and contemporary examples.
And, unlike almost every other full color art book published these days, this book is printed at a North American union shop.
This project is endorsed by the California Labor Federation.