W.E.B. Du Bois- Du Bois Spiral


Du Bois was invited to create a schowcase of Afrian American living at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. However, this World Fair was inadvertdently also a celebration of French and European imperialism, even going so far as to display “villages” where black people were presented in a derogative manner, as conquests of the empire. Du Bois created his series, “The Exhibit of American Negroes” as a challenge to this presentation. One work within “The Georgia Negro” series is the City and Rural Population 1890 poster. Later dubbed a Du Bois Spiral, this poster implements the use of this new unique chart in order to compare the population sizes btween the city and rural areas of Georgia. Because of the absurdly large ratio between the different population numbers, Du Bois uses a spiral to emphasize the overpowering amount of red as opposed to the small amount of the other colors. Because he also took into the account the fact that the viewer cannot accurately compare the actual lengths between the sprial and the straight lines, he provides labels and an exact number that each colored segment represents. He is able to draw the eye of the viewer to the swathe of red and the poster is able to immediately leave an impression. This technique finds its inspiration in another graphic technique, also common at the time called the snake. Also showcased in another piece of his, Religion of American Negroes, the snake technique offers a unique perspective on the traditional bar graph.