I had been meaning to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art’s exhibit on The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas for quite a while, and I finally, finally got a chance to do so this past weekend. Douglas, for those of you who are curious, was minister of culture in the Black Panther Party and designed all their posters–rally announcements, commemorations, calls to action–as well as their official newspaper. I was fascinated by the pieces on show, by how they ranged in tone from pure propaganda to deeply felt testaments of a cultural revolution. The exhibit included articles showing the connection with Algeria (the influence of Fanon‘s theories, Eldridge Cleaver‘s flight to Algiers, the support for the Panthers in post-colonial North Africa) and with other countries of the non-aligned movement. It was interesting, too, to see how Emory Douglas contributed to the branding of the Black Panther image with the consistent use of black berets, army jackets, and rifles in representing party members. (This reminded me of a show I saw a couple of years ago at the V&A museum in London, about Alberto Korda’s iconic photo of Che Guevara. The revolution will be branded!) The exhibit was curated by Sam Durant, and it’s only open for another week, so if you’re in the L.A. area, hurry up and see it before it closes.
Photo: “Power to the People” poster, by Emory Douglas