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Moe FonerMoe Foner
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their ads. The first major corporate campaign to promote the image of a corporation through art. What Container Corporation did was employ the best artists in America, and in the world, and assigned them quotations of themes -- on democracy, one person got a quotation from John Stuart Mill, or one from Thomas Jefferson. They produced full color drawings, paintings. These works were then published as ads in Time, in Newsweek, in the major magazines, in full color. All it said, the only message on it other than the art and the quotation, was one of a series. “Container Corporation.” I forget the title of that -- “Container Corporation of America.”

I read a book about that. It comes out of the Bauhaus tradition and how it developed and how the Container Corporation hooked on to the thing. But it was very very wonderful and impressive work. Each year they would then publish these reproductions in portfolios. I started to write to Container Corporation, saying that I was preparing an exhibition -- some cockamamie kind of reason -- and I would receive them. I would bring them to Stanley and we would look at them. Usually it was very very late at night, after we finished with the issue. We'd say, “Gee whiz, what the labor movement could do if we could do this.” We agreed that “It's impossible, it's too costly.” But these things continued for a long time, and in the back of my mind there was the germ that that could be done. When Bread and Roses started I knew that I was going to push for that, but I wanted to wait to see, to demonstrate to the endowment, that we could do other things before I would offer that.

Q:

Why?

Foner:

It was too ambitious to start with that. Also it was a very expensive operation.

At one point, I remember one summer, I was out on the island and I was visiting with Paul Davis and Myrna in their home. I was asked if the poster had come out. I said to Paul, “Paul, do you think that this is a viable thing?” I began to explain what I had in mind -- quotations about labor. He obviously knew about the Container Corporation. He said, “Wait a minute. Let me dig in to my studio.” He went back in to the studio and he dug out a portfolio that he was involved in during the McGovern campaign. It was artwork contributed by artists, put in to a portfolio, and each was on a theme. All graphic designs. They were all black and whites, except his was in color. He says, “The originals were sold for a couple of thousand dollars each to raise money.” He says, “Of course it's a viable thing.” He says, “Not only is it viable, but I would be happy to work with you on it.” Right then and



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