Showing posts with label Dynamo Museum Shop and Cafe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dynamo Museum Shop and Cafe. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dynamo Museum Spotlight: kate spade buttons

Wear Thoughts on Democracy on your sleeve...or backpack...or baseball hat...or any where you can pin a button!

Selecting from their Thoughts on Democracy poster, the kate spade, new york team has created a collection of fun, quirky, and patriotic buttons. Choose one or many of the buttons (which come in a variety of sizes, colors, and statements) to project your own individual thoughts on democracy.

The kate spade, new york buttons are available for $1.50 each at The Wolfsonian's Dynamo Shop and Cafe. The Dynamo Shop and Café is located at 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL. If you have any questions or would like to purchase something from the shop, contact the museum shop manager at or 305.535.2680.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Dynamo Museum Shop Spotlight: Iron Fists by Steven Heller

Iron Fists, the new book by Thoughts on Democracy co-curator Steve Heller, was just published yesterday, but has already received attention for its bold comparison the political propaganda of some of the world's "worst" dictators - Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin, and Mao Tse-Tung - and modern corporate branding. Although focused on much darker subject matter, Iron Fists relates to the Thoughts on Democracy project in its examination of how art and design has the power to impact politics.

Iron Fists is available for purchase at The Wolfsonian's Dynamo Shop and Cafe. The Dynamo Shop and Café is located at 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL. If you have any questions or would like to purchase something from the shop, contact the museum shop manager at or 305.535.2680.

To read Christopher Benfey's review of Iron Fists, visit, or keep reading...

Iron Fists: The insidious side of brand loyalty

by Christopher Benfey

Iron Fists
Branding the 20th Century Totalitarian State By Steven Heller Illustrated. 223 pages. Phaidon Press.

How did a practice as vile as branding become so valued, indeed, the very mark of value? Officials in the past have branded slaves and criminals - remember Milady's fleur-de-lis in "The Three Musketeers"? Samuel Maverick didn't brand his cattle, but dictionaries are vague about whether he was the first maverick or his cows were.

Today, cities and colleges have joined toothpastes and soft drinks in the battle for "brand loyalty." Steven Heller's "Iron Fists" makes a sophisticated and visually arresting comparison between modern corporate-branding strategies - slogans, mascots, jingles and the rest - and those adopted by "four of the most destructive 20th-century totalitarian regimes": Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, and Mao's China. As he pursues his four "case studies," Heller, by means of unsettling images and shrewd analysis, amply restores the vileness to branding.

"Iron Fists" has the dimensions and dazzling illustrations of a coffee-table book, but its subject will fit uneasily among Monet's waterlilies or Fabergé's eggs. Heller, who was a senior art director at The New York Times for many years and now writes the Visuals column for the Book Review, brings a graphic designer's perspective to these disturbing proceedings. He is aware that comparing supposedly "benign" corporate brands with government-disseminated propaganda may seem a stretch: "A popular brand of frozen food or laundry detergent is not forced down the consumer's throat with an iron fist." Still, as he notes, "the design and marketing methods used to inculcate doctrine and guarantee consumption are fundamentally similar." His aim is not to diminish the insidiousness of the regimes under scrutiny, but rather to reveal why they were so effective.

Three of Heller's dictators considered themselves artists and eagerly participated in marketing their brands. Mao fancied himself a poet and master calligrapher; Mussolini wrote a pulp novel and portrayed himself as a hypermasculine sex symbol. Hitler was an aspiring architect and avid watercolorist before adopting what Heller calls his "sociopolitical art project." The Führer sought to control all aspects of the Nazi brand, from the swastika "logo" to his own image, with mustache but without glasses. Heller argues that Mao with his "Mona Lisa smile" and Lenin with his proletarian cap functioned in much the same way as "trade characters" like Joe Camel or the Geico gecko, putting "a friendly face on an otherwise inanimate (or sometimes inhumane) product." Like modern corporate competitors, these leaders borrowed freely from one another, with Hitler taking the straight-armed Roman salute from Mussolini and Mao adopting Socialist Realism from the Soviets.

Some of the most interesting pages in "Iron Fists" explore the ambiguous place of avant-garde art in rigidly designed societies. Mussolini and Lenin were more accommodating of Modernist impulses than Hitler, who declared war on "degenerate art" while making an exception for the filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl's "paradigms of heroic branding." The temporary "fusion" of Fascism and the technology-embracing art movement known as Futurism led to some terrific pro-Mussolini visual design before Il Duce settled for neo-Classical "Roman" kitsch instead.

The early years of the Soviet Union provide some of the best examples of art flourishing amid utopian hopes for a new society - in Rodchenko's posters (including his famous promo for "Books" in 1924), El Lissitzky's remarkable children's books and Eisenstein's films. All four regimes ended up suppressing individual creativity as a threat to the total control they sought. When the regimes fell in turn, their brands were retired.

The swastika, an ancient symbol whose meaning, Heller says, "was forever changed when the Nazis co-opted it," is now banned in Germany except for "artistic, scientific, research or educational purposes." Mussolini's body, so central to his national image, was hung from an Esso gas station, an inadvertent premonition, perhaps, that oil companies would henceforth rule the world.

For the most part, Heller's prose is as clear and uncluttered as the graphic design he admires. He takes no ideological position and does not distinguish between repressive regimes of the right (sometimes called "authoritarian") or the left. Nor does he advance any overarching theory about the destiny of art in totalitarian regimes, though he leaves no doubt about the grim fate of ordinary citizens. Given his dark subject, he can be forgiven for abusing adjectives like "infamous," "horrific," "diabolical" and "heinous," though such words lose some of their power with the third or fourth repetition. They also obscure the continuity between branding campaigns of the past and our own battles over flag pins and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Heller makes no claims to a comprehensive survey, but one wonders why Imperial Japan, at least as "infamous" as Fascist Italy and with an interesting record of artists roped into the cause, was spared. One might also cavil about the material's organization, which places the Nazis first, according them a third of the book, even though Lenin's revolution and Mussolini's Fascism predate Hitler's rise.

Still, as Heller makes clear, the Nazis were the supreme masters of branding, both at the figurative level, in the vicious propaganda campaign he calls the "branding demonization" of the German Jews, and in a literal sense, as the Nazis "resorted to the most degrading branding technique imaginable." My German grandparents, with a big "J" stamped across their ex it passports, were among the lucky ones. Those less fortunate, as Primo Levi wrote of the inmates of Auschwitz, were branded with an indelible tattoo: "This is the mark with which slaves are branded and cattle sent to the slaughter, and that is what you have become. You no longer have a name; this is your new name."


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dynamo Museum Shop Spotlight: Propaganda Products by CP+B

Can’t get enough Thoughts on Democracy, but don’t have enough wall space for a poster? Check out these ToD inspired products created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, one of the exhibition contributors. Exclusively on sale at The Wolfsonian’s Dynamo Museum Shop and Café, these interactive products stimulate your creativity in thinking about your own “thoughts on democracy.”

Thoughts on Democracy Ad Lib Pads:

Building on the interactive nature of the fill-in-the-blank Star Spangled Banner poster (and because of its overwhelming popularity) CP+B has created a portable note pad version so you can have a little fun with democracy anywhere, anytime. Just gather ye patriot friends, and throw a late night ad lib karaoke party. “Oh, say can you blank by the dawn’s early light.”
Dynamo Price: $5.00

Political Post-it® Notes:

If only it were this easy to get the candidates to echo your exact thoughts and sentiments. These quirky illustrated Post-it® Notes feature Presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain with blank word bubbles. That’s where you come in. Use them to create your own spirited political debate between the Democratic and Republican sparring partners. But please, use them responsibly. The last thing we want to encourage is making a complete mockery of our nation’s sacred democratic process.
Dynamo Price: $10.00

If you have questions or would like to purchase one of these items, visit The Dynamo Café at The Wolfsonian-FIU (located at 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL). Or, contact the museum shop manager at or 305.535.2680.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Banned Books. Designer Housewares. Wearable Art. Unusual Toys…These and books by Thoughts on Democracy contributors on sale at The Dynamo

Voted “Best Bookstore” in Miami by the New Times, The Dynamo Museum Shop and Café is (in)famous for its “propaganda products” and book collection – which include design periodicals, exhibition catalogs, banned books and other titillating titles. Now, books by and about Thoughts on Democracy artists have been added to the Dynamo shelves. From essays and art books, to do-it-yourself design and collections of poetry, the Dynamo’s collection of ToD related titles include:

Women by Ruth Ansel
Looking Closer 1, Looking Closer 2, Looking Closer 3, Looking Closer 4, Looking Closer 5, and 79 Short Essays on Design by Michael Bierut
Graphic Design History featuring references to R.O. Blechman
How to be a Graphic Designer without Losing Your Soul (featuring references to Neville Brody)
Designers are Wankers by Neville Brody
Graphic Style and The Push Pin Graphic by Seymour Chwast
The Miracles of Passover and The Miracles of the Bible illustrated by Seymore Chwast
Wim Crouwel Alphabets
Letters on America (OP) by Ed Fella
As Far as the Eye Can See by Liam Gillick from a Lawrence Weiner exhibition at the Whitney Museum
Liam Gillick by Liam Gillick
Essays on Graphic Design, New Media, & Visual Culture by Jessica Helfand
Iron Fists by Steven Heller
Illustration coauthored by Steven Heller and Seymour Chwast
Pentagon Papers and Profile Pentagram Design by Kit Hinrichs
Spencer Finch: what time by Tim Hossler
Guillermo Kuitca by Guillermo Kuitca
American Illustration 26 – by contributing author Anita Kunz
DIY, DIY Kids, Thinking with Type, Letters from the Avante Garde, Graphic Design, and Skin – Surface, Substance & Design by Ellen Lupton
Seven Notebooks by Campbell McGrath
Caution Five Hungry Soviet Cows by Richard Massey
Design of Dissent and Graphic Design Time Line featuring Chaz Marviyane-Davies
Design Evolution: A Handbook of Basic Design Principles Applied in Contemporary Design with references to Armando Milani
Gary Panter by Gary Panter
Make it Bigger by Paula Scher
How to be a Graphic Designer without Losing your Soul, Cover Art By, and Look at This by Adrian Shaughnessy
Dot dot dot 16 by Dester Sinister
Art of Richard Tuttle and A Project by Richard Tuttle by Richard Tuttle
Francesco Vezzoli by Francesco Vezzoli
Fresh Dialogue 6 with contributions by James Victore
Deep Blue Skylight and Lawrence Weiner by Lawrence Weiner

If you have questions or would like to purchase one of these titles, visit The Dynamo Café at The Wolfsonian-FIU (located at 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL) OR contact the museum shop manager at or 305.535.2680.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Posters from Thoughts on Democracy Available for Purchase

Based on interest from Thoughts on Democracy enthusiasts, The Wolfsonian's museum shop and cafe, The Dynamo, is now taking orders for posters from the exhibit.

All of the posters from the exhibit will be printed in 16" x 20" format for $25 plus shipping and handling. Posters will be printed as ordered, and will be available at the end of July.

To place an order, please contact the museum shop manager at or 305.535.2680 with the name of the designer and poster of your choice. You can use this blog,, or The Wolfsonian's Flickr account,, to view and select from all of the Thoughts on Democracy posters. To use the blog, just scroll down the website until you see the "Contents" heading on the right-hand tool bar. Under contents, you can either click on a designer's name to view their poster OR, if you do not know the name of the designer or want to see all of the posters, click on the "ToD posters" link to see all exhibition images. To use The Wolfsonian's Flickr account, click on sets and then select from the posters in the "Thoughts on Democracy" set.