It was around 2009, living in a tiny duplex in midtown Memphis with my new wife, that I began the hunt for some vintage art to hang in our first home together. Perusing eBay for original print editions, I stumbled across the work of Eduardo Muñoz Bachs, probably the most famous and influential designer of the Cuban poster movement of the 1960s and 70s. My wife is half-Cuban – her mother and grandparents having fled Castro’s regime in 1963 – so when I came across the beautiful poster for the film Manuela (her grandmother’s name) I knew I had to nab it.

Over the course of his career, Bachs designed over 2,000 posters for the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry, created by the Castro regime mere months after the Revolution – you can guess why. Despite the link between the internationally-influential Cuban poster movement and revolutionary propaganda being quite clear, I still love this movement’s work. Its blend of homegrown Cuban influences (both artistic and political) with much of the West’s design zeitgeist creates its own unique point of view.

Manuela Poster

Poster for Manuela, Eduardo Muñoz Bachs, 1967

Manuela’s poster I find meaningful in a very particular way. The chaos of the jungle leaves and the protagonist’s wild hair below, somehow perfectly contrasted with the orderly and gridded typesetting of the title and credits above. To me, this is the perfect confluence of order and chaos, both mutually reinforcing the other. It also perfectly captures the opening scenes of the film (which you can see here) – the rugged peasant coming into contact with Castro’s guerrilla forces in the jungle of the Sierra Maestra – a whole country quite literally on the brink of violent revolution under the guise of creating a more stable order.

I still stare at the poster for Manuela every day, hanging above my wife’s head as we drink our morning coffee. It reminds me the good that can come from evil, whether it’s a great design movement out of a despicable propaganda ministry, or having only met my wife because of a brutal dictator’s violence to her forebears. Hats off to Manuela.

Manuela Poster in Living Room

You can see more of Bachs’ work here, here, and here, and learn more about the movement he inspired here.
Mike Jackson is Design Lead at Beck & Stone where he his identity design work can be seen across clients’ brands. He and his wife have made their home on a farm in his native Tennessee with their three children.