Posters are products of the industrial era, and rapidly became a medium of dissemination, not only in manufacturing but in all walks of life of life. This artistic genre has given rise to visual, cultural, ideological, and autonomous discourses. In Puerto Rico, poster-making began to develop in the late 1940s and flourished in the 1950s and 1960s. Since then, there has been a significant steady production in the medium, which has kept this visual form alive. Our artists have used their poetic perspectives to allow our society to demarcate and reinterpret important events in Puerto Rican life. This has had the positive effect of enabling our people to maintain, and at times to recover, our historical memory. In fact, the poster has become a formative instrument of our particular psyche and has helped to sustain the values that distinguish us, while not discounting positive influences from abroad.
As with other Latin American countries, the negative experiences we have suffered from the time of the European occupation until the present have forced us to sustain an attitude of vigilance. In many instances a spirit of resistance has developed while diversity strategies have been adopted. Frequently, economic, political, religious, and other interests have been somewhat successful in their attempts to virtually eradicate any memory of the past, as for example, as has happened with regard to pre-Colombian cultures. A case in point is that the theoretical rescue of the customs of these groups has been largely based on their archeological remains. When we look back into our history, we become aware of the importance of keeping records in forming a collective vision of who we are. Art thus becomes an absolutely essential element of dissemination. In the Puerto Rican context, the poster became part of the first line of defense of the ethos that defines us.
The circumstances of daily life are constantly producing situations that undermine the coherence of our community. We share with the international community the experience of novel situations that require shared solutions. Puerto Rico cannot remain aloof from these circumstances and as at other critical moments, we need to act to preserve our cultural achievements. When we consider the role the arts in Puerto Rico during the 20th century, we observe that the poster has been present in all aspects of our lives, although it has had a very particular place in the development of our visual arts as it became a widely-used form.
Among other functions, the systematic practice of poster-pasting provided the practicioners of this form with experimental possibilities that allowed their insertion in the esthetic currents of their times. The development of the poster opened the way not only for participation in isms, still in vogue, but also to establish connections with the effervescence of new currents in post-World War II New York and Europe, influences which continue to be felt to this day.
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