In response to the decision by CBS not to show "The Reagans" on network television, the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) produced a virtual exhibition of more than 45 posters graphically criticizing Ronald Reagan for over two decades. While Governor of California (1967-1975) and President of the United States (1981-1989), Ronald Reagan's policies generated thousands of posters protesting his domestic and international policies. CSPG is proud to show this rich visual legacy.
Often called the "Teflon President" because "no criticism ever stuck," these posters are historical proof that Reagan was not universally admired. From Boston to Los Angeles, and from Finland to Australia, poster artists critiqued Reagan's extreme right wing domestic agenda and propensity to attack sovereign nations. Posters protest Reagan's destructive domestic policies against women's rights, the environment, healthcare and education cut backs. They mourn the tens of thousands killed by his wars against the people of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. They dispute his reasons for invading Grenada or bombing Libya. The list goes on. The virtual exhibition has just a sampling of the hundreds of posters in CSPG's collection that accuse Ronald Reagan of crimes against humanity. How many of these were in the miniseries?
Many posters appropriate the visual language of advertising and film promotion. Reagan carries Margaret Thatcher in a parody of Gone With the Wind. Others rely on puns and familiar slogans. A 1966 poster made while Reagan was Governor of California, portrays him as a cowboy with the slogan, "Fascist Gun In the West." Nancy Reagan does not escape attack, as in "Fallout Fashion" which simultaneously lampoons her penchant for high fashion and the president's promotion of nuclear weapons. Whether posters by Robbie Conal or the Guerrilla Girls are seen as humorous or scathing may depend upon the eye of the beholder.
Selections from "Graphics for the Gipper" will also appear in "A Presidential Rogues Gallery," posters satirizing every US president from Lyndon Baines Johnson to George W. Bush. "A Presidential Rogues Gallery" will be exhibited in two venues during this election year: Williamson Gallery, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA, July 3 -- September 5, 2004; In These Times, Chicago, IL, September 24 through November 20, 2004.
* In the 1940 film, Knute Rockne -- All American, Ronald Reagan played George Gipp, often considered Notre Dame's greatest football player. Gipp died tragically, at age 25, one month after his last football game. In the film, coach Knute Rockne gave his "Win One for the Gipper" speech to inspire Notre Dame's team during the 1928 Army game. "Win One for the Gipper" later became a rally cry for Reagan's political campaigns.
©2004 Center for the Study of Political Graphics
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