Since the mid-20th century, California has been a beacon of both inventive design and political activism. Exploring the intersection of these realms, this exhibition uses case studies from LACMA’s collection to demonstrate how designers and artists championed civil rights, opposed wars and injustice, and pressed for change. Skilled communicators by profession, they distilled complex issues into eye-catching images, often appropriating commercial art techniques—from newspaper broadsheets to screen prints to digital downloads—to distribute powerful imagery despite limited resources. Others led workshops and formed printing collectives, providing movements with new methods for disseminating their messages. Their works express both outrage and optimism, going beyond protest to envision alternative ways of living.
Key figures and organizations including Emory Douglas of the Black Panther Party, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville of the Woman’s Building, Self Help Graphics & Art, and street artist Shepard Fairey achieved widespread acclaim and notoriety, galvanizing political movements and empowering marginalized communities. This presentation features generous loans from The Center for the Study of Political Graphics in addition to select objects from private collectors.
OPENING RECEPTION: MARCH 25, 2023, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Image credit: Rupert García, Libertad para los Prisoneros Políticas! (Liberty for Political Prisoners!), 1971, screenprint, made for the National Committee to Free Angela Davis, 26 × 20 in., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Allison and Larry Berg and Suzanne and Ric Kayne through the 2017 Decorative Arts and Design Acquisition Committee (DA²), © Rupert García, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA