Louis Raemaekers, "Tegen de Tariefwet, Vliegt niet in't Web!"

Video transcript

(quiet music) Female: We're in the MoMA stores looking at a poster of 1913 designed and printed in Amsterdam by Louis Raemaekers. This is a dramatic use of very simple means, two colors lithographically printed, and it shows this new integrative approach to the combination of image and text. It's a political poster which takes the form of this giant creepy spider and web. This is protesting the Tariff Act that the Netherlandish government had introduced raising levies on the everyday products featured in the poster. You can see here the cocooned prey of clothing, tools and food that were subject to these tariffs. The use of the spider feeds off a quite visceral sense of discomfort that we have with spiders. What's new about Raemaekers' image is that it really exploits the kind of microscopic scientific scrutiny of small insect life, the hairy legs and the talons at the end attached to this gossamer web. This style of poster, the symbolic and metaphorical use of animal life, and the whole subject of tariffs are indicative of the tensions, both economic and aesthetic, that would erupt during the first World War. Raemaekers' techniques using animal political imagery was so effective in World War I that in fact the German government put a bounty on his head and he was forced to take flight from Amsterdam for London. (quite music)