Poster, The Labour Woman
This object is not part of the Cooper Hewitt's permanent collection. It was able to spend time at the museum on loan from The Museum of Modern Art as part of Underground Modernist: E. McKnight Kauffer.
In Britain, some property-owning women over the age of 30 had obtained the legal right to vote in 1918, but equal voting rights were not granted until 1928. The left-leaning Labour Party supported women’s suffrage, and Kauffer designed this poster in 1925 to promote the party’s monthly journal for women. He featured a woman’s head shown in profile, wearing a helmet. The depiction is a reference to the mythological Greek goddess Athena, a symbol of independence.
Feminism and Misogyny
By all accounts of those who knew him, Kauffer viewed women as his equals. Throughout his life, he maintained close friendships with women and championed their professional pursuits. While Kauffer was far more sensitive in his depictions of women than many of his contemporaries, there are noteworthy contradictions in his work. In 1923, Kauffer designed the book cover for Woman: A Vindication by the antifeminist Anthony Ludovici, which endorsed a misogynistic ideal of a woman as solely a wife and mother. Kauffer’s vibrant cover put a cheery spin on a devastating text, made more complicated by the possible interpretation of the image as a woman’s genitalia.
It is credited
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the designer, 1939.
Its dimensions are
H x W: 75.6 × 50.8 cm (29 3/4 in. × 20 in.)
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Underground Modernist: E. McKnight Kauffer.