The green tree dominates the image’s centre, towering over a tangle of highways, which are themselves rendered in shades of dull, newsprint grey. Printed along the bottom in red is a poetic message: Und Neues Leben Blüht aus den Ruinen – “And new life blooms from the ruins.” Created in 1979, this is just one of many anti-car posters created by the German political activist and graphic designer Klaus Staeck.
Born in 1938 in the German town of Pulsnitz, north-east of Dresden, Staeck moved to West Germany in 1956. There, he trained as a lawyer and became active in the West German Social Democratic party before teaching himself graphic design.
Beginning in the early 1970s, Staeck created posters that mimicked the iconography and language of political campaigns to poke fun at leaders whose policies, he believed, mainly benefited the wealthy and powerful.
Occasionally, the car would become a stand-in for such policies, such as in 1974’s “For wider streets, vote conservative,” which shows a Rolls-Royce driving down a narrow street past modest houses, none of which have…