Hollywood in Havana: Five Decades of Cuban Posters Promoting U.S. Films brings together innovative Cuban posters promoting American films, made from 1960 to 2009. Produced by Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC), the posters were part of an initiative of the revolutionary government to develop cultural awareness and dialogue after Fidel Castro and the guerrilla forces overthrew the brutal dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The Cuban Revolution of 1959 altered not only politics, society, and the economy but the cultural sphere as well, greatly expanding access to and engagement with the arts, particularly cinema, for a large portion of the population. During the early years of the Revolution, poster designers had few material resources and operated in an almost artisanal manner, using the silkscreen technique. While the limited resources imposed by the embargo inspired many of the design decisions, revolutionary ideals also influenced these graphic artists. The approximately 40 posters featured in the exhibition—which promoted films such as Singin’ in the Rain, Cabaret, and Silence of the Lambs as well as a few select Cuban films, such as a documentary about Marilyn Monroe—are astonishing in their composition, stylistic diversity, and craft. Hollywood in Havana showcases how design and visual imagery in film posters, which are ubiquitous in Los Angeles, can infiltrate our lives and inform our ideas about the world.
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