[Pedagogy, Ecology, Technology, Death] Four Posters from the Council for Social Development
Philadelphia: The Council for Social Development, ca. 1970. Item #5275
Offset. Four posters, each 17 x 22 1/2 in. All very good to near fine.
Four posters from a little-known group in the early American ecology movement, likely created by or closely associated with Ira Einhorn--later known as the Unicorn Killer--and Marshall Henrichs, the designer for Einhorn’s 1972 book 78-187880. Little evidence of the Council for Social Development exists, spare a short announcement of the group’s formation in the September 1970 issue of "Vocations for Social Change" and a flyer for the group found in Julian Beck’s copy of 78-187880 along with Einhorn’s poetry. The posters include quotes from Alan Watts, Karl Marx, Kahlil Gibran, Wallace Stevens, William Blake, and R.D. Laing, in addition to original writing by the Council. "What Human Beings and Society Have is a Culture of Lies...Human Beings and their Society are Dying" one poster claims; another asks, "Do You Know That Most Environments Are Designed to Push You Around?"
As a student at UPenn in the early 1960s, Ira Einhorn became involved with the burgeoning anti-war and ecology movements and by the 1970s was a central figure in the Philadelphia counterculture. He spoke at and had some role in organizing the first Earth Day in Philadelphia in 1970, though his level of involvement is disputed. His book 78-187880 was a radical counterculture tract sharing similarities with the text of these posters. In 1977, following a fight with Einhorn and a promised end to their relationship, his longtime girlfriend, Holly Maddux, disappeared. The local police department refused to investigate Einhorn for the disappearance but the Maddux family hired two former FBI agents as private detectives. As neighbors began to complain of an awful smell coming from Einhorn’s apartment almost two years after the disappearance, the police raided his home and found Maddux’s body mummified and stuffed in his closet. Following his arrest, Einhorn posted bail thanks to Barbara Bonfman, the inheritor of the bootlegging fortune of Seagram’s Gin. Einhorn fled the country and lived in hiding in France for 17 years before being extradited back to the United States. Einhorn died in prison in April 2020.
These posters bear an undeniable and striking resemblance to the work of designer Marshall Henrichs in the 1970 Blueprint for Counter Education, a work of radical pedagogy tracing the links between left thought and artistic practice. Besides Blueprint and 78-187880, Henrichs other known work is commercial or part of his (seemingly apolitical) painterly practice. The writing is similar in style to the disjointed philosophizing found in 78-187880. Given Henrichs graphic work and Einhorn’s politics, these posters appear to be an unrecorded collaboration, lost to, or buried by, time.
From the collection of Judith Malina and Julian Beck, who were hosted by Einhorn for a 1974 Living Theatre performance of 7 Meditations on Sadomasochism at the University of Pennsylvania.
Artifacts of early ecology and perhaps of the frightening and murderous misogyny endemic to our society, even in supposedly countercultural or anti-authoritarian movements.