Books

PROTEST! A History of Social and Political Protest Graphics (By the Book)

Liz McQuiston

From the French, Mexican, and Sandinista revolutions to the American civil rights movement, nuclear disarmament, and the Women's March of 2017, PROTEST!, by Liz McQuiston, documents the integral role of the visual arts in passionate efforts for change. Enjoy this excerpt, courtesy of Princeton University Press.

Protest!: A History of Social and Political Protest Graphics
Liz McQuiston

Quarto Publishing / Princeton University Press

October 2019

Other

Excerpted from PROTEST!: A History of Social and Political Protest Graphics, by Liz McQuiston. Copyright © 2019 by Quarto Publishing plc. Published by Princeton University Press. Reprinted by permission. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Social discontent and political protest have been expressed visually as well as verbally throughout the ages. Graffiti scribbles on a wall, pictures scattered in the street during marches, posters spread through the environment: all have played their part. For such agitational images represent a power struggle; a rebellion against an established order and a call to arms, or a passionate cry of concern for a cause. They signify, in short, an attempt to bring about change, whether driven by the cry of an individual or the heat of the crowd. It is the emotion, aggression or immediacy of this imagery that constitutes a visual power that links into the passions of the viewer.

This book's history of protest graphics can therefore be joyful as well as brutal. It is largely driven by events, both local and international, but also owes a debt to changes in technology. Consequently it begins in the 16th century with the Reformation (as by that time images could be produced in multiples). It then travels through the decades and centuries, protesting against the miseries of war, satirising the foibles of royalty, politicians, religions and society in general, calling for an end to racial discrimination and apartheid, demanding freedom from tyranny and dictatorships around the world, struggling for LGBTQ+ rights, and finally attending to current 21st-century concerns and Trumpisms.

The content encompasses an astounding breadth of emotion – from hilarious satire to utter horror. It highlights the timeless iconography of protest graphics, such as raised fists, skulls (and skeletons), mushroom clouds and missiles, and revels in the variety of its modus operandi: from posters and postcards to giant inflatables. But over and above all, this book pays tribute to the liberating concept of hard-won 'freedom of speech' throughout history, and which still has agency in current times. The power struggles of the past, and their visual communication, have meaning for us now. Such resonances occur, again and again, throughout this entire collection.

When viewing this book, don't just observe the past.

Feel the present.

p41, Posada / caption: Calavera of the People's Printer Antonio Vanegas Arroyo date unknown, José Guadalupe Posada, Engraving / (courtesy of Princeton University Press)

p79, Ban the Bomb/ caption: Gojira (Godzilla) 1954, Artist unknown, Film poster/ credit: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo / (courtesy of Princeton University Press)

GODZILLA, (aka GOJIRA), 1954

p208, War on Terror / caption: NO 2003, David Gentleman for the Stop the War Coalition, Poster (courtesy of Princeton University Press)

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Music

The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.

Music

'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.

Music

​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.

Music

Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.

Music

Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.

Music

Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.

Music

Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.

Music

Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.