Election 2020

Our Finest Artists Reimagine the Political Poster

Kara Walker, Glenn Ligon, Nick Cave, and more give us the election art we need

Images courtesy of W Magazine

Glenn Ligon, Kara Walker, and Nick Cave are amongst the 18 modern artists — all people of color — who reimagined the political poster for a new W Magazine feature.

Cave, a Chicago-based artist and professor at the Art Institute of Chicago who is known for his spectacular Sound Suits, says now is the time.

“Political posters have always been a way to share points of view or contention,” Cave tells Momentum. “They are powerful because they can infiltrate the mainstream being part art, part design, and 100% human. I made this poster for W as a collaboration, to allow my art to be augmented by my partner Bob Faust’s design. This way each of our talents could amplify the message.”

What happens when you mix the finest modern artists of modern time with politics? You get a new vision for a political poster.

The art ranges from Cave’s gorgeous renditions of flowers surrounding a Black hand pointing to the words “Vote in their names” to Walker’s visceral imagery of the naked body. The energy of each piece says to Vote. And many directly reference modern social justice issues. Cave’s, for example, also lists the names of Black people killed in the fight for justice and freedom.

“The idea of making your voice heard is one that is universally agreed upon amongst our readers,” says W Editor-In-Chief Sara Moonves. “Regardless of the topic, I think our reader felt connected to the idea of this impressive roster of artists reimagining the political poster during a time of urgent social change. Our goal in putting these posters out was to motivate our reader to vote, which we hope we did.”

The full list of artists is as follows: Kara Walker, Derek Fordjour, Glenn Ligon, Mark Bradford, Charles Gaines, Chase Hall, Woody De Othello, Nick Cave, Lauren Halsey, Hank Willis Thomas x For Freedoms, Vaughn Spann, Martine Syms, Gary Simmons, Jacolby Satterwhite, Tavares Strachan, Odili Donald Odita, Jeffrey Gibson, and Shahzia Sikander.

The magazine could have taken a words-first approach to covering politics, but instead leaned on its history of imagery and focus on fine art.

“One of the greatest aspects of being an editor is being able to ask amazing artists to create their best work and giving them a place to showcase it,” Moonves says of the feature that took one month to wrangle and produce. “While many great news outlets use words, W is so known for its imagery, so we thought, ‘why not let this be a place to express our current political climate in a visual way?’”

You can download and print the images yourself for inspiration.

Director, Multicultural @Medium. Focusing on ZORA, Momentum, Level and bolstering creators of color. All ideas welcome. And yes, I’ll still be writing.

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