• Steven Heller

The Daily Heller: The Year of Latin American Graphic Design

For me, an interest in Latin, Central and South American graphic design started when I co-authored a book with Vicki Gold Levi titled Cuba Style, a survey of pre-revolutionary Cuban commercial graphic design. Next, I found Peron Mediante (Peron Willing!): Classic Peronist Graphics, on Argentina's totalitarian propaganda design. Then an exhibition catalog titled Mexico Illustrated 1920–1950, on Modern/Avant Garde illustrated books and magazines, was published in 2010.


Now, Gabriel Benderski's exhaustive archiving of Uruguayan graphic design, which The Daily Heller has covered with great interest and continues to do so later in this post, has added to the history. And starting tomorrow, a new initiative from the Society of Design Arts (SoDA) and AIGA Baltimore called "Latino Design Histories," with an online lecture featuring Rafael Cardoso, adds more to the richness of the Americas' design history. (Register here.)



In this era of inclusion, it is important to be aware of how the world of graphic expression was not born in Europe or the United States, although so much of these other styles and dialects were extensions of Western—American and European—design.


La Semana (The Week) is Benderski's and Rosana Malaneschii's latest focus; the publication was modeled after the classic Art Nouveau and Deco periodicals of turn-of-the-century Europe, notably the German Jugend and Simplicissimus.


From La Patria blog: "La Semana was a Montevideo weekly with wide circulation in the Uruguay of its time, the early years of the 20th century. Its contents, full of art and extremely popular, were humorous and critical of the events of the moment. It allowed the contribution, original and genuine, of many Uruguayans. This text highlights the circumstances, the aesthetic, symbolic, literary and communicational aspects, also through graphic design, of images and texts. The reading offers a vivid picture of an earlier era."


(Note the "obligatory vaccination" image below; Timely, but not. According to Benderski: "It's about politics. One gentleman is dressed in skyblue and the other one in red. These colours represent the Uruguayan parties, Partido Nacional and Partido Colorado, respectively. The bottle from where the doctors take the medicine reads us 'Caldo de la Cordura' or Broth of Sanity. The text that reads below says: 'With the noble aim of avoiding so many evils for the country, all Uruguayans should be vaccinated. And oh! if it could be killed, the partisan microbe with some anti-revolutionary serum.' ")














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