Originally designed in 1912, Biró’s Red Man with a Hammer became inextricably identified with the 1919 Hungarian revolution, appearing in huge numbers and varied formats—printed in this case over an issue of NÉPSZAVA (The People’s Voice), the newspaper of the Hungarian Social Democratic Party. The image established his name internationally and has been much repeated in Central European political iconography up to the present day. As an apprentice in Ashbee’s Guild of Handicraft in London, Biró learned the craft of printing and absorbed the socialist ethos and utopian ideals of the British arts and crafts movement. His earlier training as a sculptor is also evident in the assured handling of the iconic red man for whom the model was his lifelong friend, Hungarian wrestling champion Tibor Fischer.
Gallery label from Seeing Red: Hungarian Revolutionary Posters, 1919, February 2–August 1, 2011.