Grapus Poster: Expo Grapus

Expo Grapus image (Poyner).

This poster was made in 1982 by Grapus, mainly illustrated by Pierre Bernard. This poster, Expo Grapus, was supposed “to represent the studio, for a retrospective in Paris” (Poyner). In 1982, Grapus was an internationally famous design group despite the fact that their work was more anarchist, rebellious, and punk then the popular modernism seen in the contemporary galleries at the time. Their punk graphic style is “seen in the scribbled lines, dabs of crudely slapped on color, and rejection of formal typography for clumsily scrawled handwriting” (Poyner). The poster features a crudely drawn Mickey Mouse Head with a Soviet hammer and sickle symbol and the French flag colors for eyes , two breast-like figures for shoulders, a scribbled patch of hair resembling Adolf Hitler’s mustache or pubic hair, and a sharp arrow sign that reads “Expo.” The Soviet symbol is representational of the group’s communist allegiances. The symbolism in their posters is one of the strongest cohesive elements in the visual identity of Grapus’s signature style. The winking face, breast-like imagery, and pubic hair nose all imply a sexually suggestive theme which is present in many of their works. The arrow gripped in the figure’s mouth suggests that “any engagement with design conventions will have to be conducted on Grapus’s own terms” (Poyner). This poster embodies their provocative design choices combined with their political alliances and playful style. The arrow is the only clean and crisp imagery in the poster, as compared to the loose, child-like scribbles of the rest of the image. The Mickey Mouse head is combined with a haunting winking yellow smiley face. The figure seems to be rested on a spring, like a jack-in-the-box, as if to shock viewers through the combination of “the Smiley face, Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Adolf Hitler” (Poyner). The image could also be a response to and rejection of Disney’s plant to open a theme park in Europe, which went against Grapus’s ideas about the evils of consumerism and excessive American imperialism.


Poyner, Rick. “Utopian Image: Politics and Posters.” Design Observer, 10 Mar. 2013,