The Daily Heller: The New John Heartfield

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Jeff Gates, founder of the Chamomile Tea Party—for which he’s created over 190 posters on the sorry state of American political discourse—is a follower and critic of American culture. His art and writing have appeared in publications such as The Washington Post, The Atlantic and The Nation, and he’s the author of Uneventful: The Rise of Photography.

Public engagement is an important aspect of Gates’ work. Just before the 2012 presidential election, he was the first artist to buy ad space in Washington, DC’s Metro, placing his posters about the effects of legislative partisanship on platform signs. In 2018, Google Arts & Culture published a six-part online exhibition of this work, allowing Gates to create a visual history of American politics from the rise of the Tea Party to the election of Donald Trump.

In recent months I’ve become aware of his unofficial poster-a-day project, wherein he uses photomontage and typography to communicate. Since I’m always looking for how the past influences the present, I have noticed that Gates leans in the direction of (and is arguably an heir to) Weimar Germany’s “inventor” in the 1920s of political photomontage, John Heartfield.

Here are a couple of Gates’ most recent pieces.

Prepare for the worst
Prepare for the worst

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →