álbum de la revolución cubana

Carátula del Álbum de la Revolución Cubana

Carátula del Álbum de la Revolución Cubana. Imagen tomada del blog vernácula Typography.

En Cuba Counterpoints: Fate, the State, and the Everyday, by Alan West-Durán:

. . . One item that stands out from the beginning of the revolution is “El álbum de la Revolución Cubana,” published by La Revista Cinegráfico (under René Jiménez in 1960, it was a reprint of a 1959 first edition), but underwritten by the company Felices, maker of candy and preserves. They had traditionally made their candies offering postalitas (baseball cards), but now they were taking the postalita concept and applying it to an album-length narrative of the Cuban revolution that begins with Batista’s coup on March 10, 1952 and ends with the triumphant arrival of Fidel to Havana on January 8, 1959 (and, interestingly enough, with the execution of prominent batistianos involved in war crimes in the last three closing images). Through 268 card-images, a colorful, if somewhat ideology-laden story unfolds, even if the facts are pretty accurate. There is one ad for Guava Marmalade, on the back cover, from Felices with a little girl in blonde pigtails saying “Thank you, mom, for today’s dessert!”

Pure fifties imagery of what is supposed to be the typical middle class Cuban family, which if not in Spanish could be an ad from any U.S. magazine of the time. The front cover has an explosion of color to match the one depicted of a battle. On top are the Cuban and the July 26th flags, below which, in bold yellow lettering are the words Revolución Cubana in full caps. Next to that lettering stands Fidel himself holding a rifle. He looms large over the landscape and to his right is both the Sierra Maestra (the mountain range that harbored the incipient guerrilla movement), and above the mountains is a kind of spirit-cloud with the face of José Martí, Cuba’s “imaginary monarch” (Rafael Rojas’s words), the political and moral inspiration of the Cuban revolutionary movement. At ground level are scenes of battle (with soldiers, planes, tanks and an explosion with billowing red smoke), as well as a depiction of the Granma, the boat used by the July 26th rebels to go from Mexico to Cuba (now prominently displayed in the Museum of the Revolution). To say the cover is over the top would be an understatement, but it does have an appeal for those who enjoy an action comic aesthetic with clear heroes and villains. The difference between the covers is striking: revolutionary propaganda (Fidel, Martí, July 26th Movement) on the front; capitalist propaganda (Guava marmalade) on the back. Blood and heroism on the cover, sweetness and pleasure on the back: good old Cuban dialectics at work.
Surprisingly, for an object for young collectors, the album depicts many scenes of violence, be it acts of repression of the Batista government to battle scenes with bodies strewn about, to attempts on the life of Batista, to the assassination of underground leader Frank País, or the blowing up of trains in Santa Clara. Indeed, it is a graphic and bloody depiction of an insurrectionary war and those who died in the revolutionary struggle are shown as heroes and spoken about in the language of Christian martyrdom.

Leer todo el texto en Cuba Counterpoints.

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Ver el álbum de la revolución cubana en pdf, a partir de las imágenes de Vernacular Typography.

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