This eclectic exhibition includes a wide variety of political posters, from the left wing Globalise Resistance to the Nazis striking a false anti-capitalist pose in 1926.
One trend stands out is who produces the posters. There is a shift from mass organisations to individuals and small groups.
When a great design pops up from this quarter, it is often vacuous—such as Shepard Fairey’s iconic Obama “Hope” poster.
The show ends in Turkey, Syria and Egypt, with one-off creations by protesters that only reached a wider audience through social media.
A weakness of the exhibition is that it doesn’t address the context in which posters are produced.
It barely touches on questions of cost, print-run, intended audience, distribution and display—or on who controls and polices public space.
And yet these are crucial for those who make posters.
Ironically today posters are cheaper than ever to produce, but very hard to display because of a clampdown by councils and university authorities.
Posters, perhaps more than anything else in this museum, are intended for a wide audience.
But in the streets outside the V&A that’s precisely what they’ll struggle to find.
Posters of Protest and Revolution
Victoria & Albert Museum, central London
Until 2 November. Free entry