Baptized By Beefcake: The Golden Age of Hand-Painted Movie Posters from Ghana

October 17, 2019–February 16, 2020
Baptized By Beefcake exhibition highlighting a larger than life, super muscled, Van Damme inlaid on a black freestanding wall.

This exhibition contains information about how movies, economics, and religion mixed in the 1980s & 1990s to inspire larger-than-life posters in Ghana.

Baptized by Beefcake presents the work of 22 artists whose posters tell the story of how Western movies not only became symbols of modernity, but also vehicles for religious experience. Each artist’s signature style reflects Ghana’s rich tradition of painting, as well as the influence of Western commercial graphics portrayed on VHS and PAL box covers. The eye-catching, sometimes shocking graphics reference a hybrid of indigenous and Pentecostal symbology, where Rambo and the Terminator become messengers of moral ideologies in a larger-than-life mashup of pop culture and religion.

This show focuses on the “Golden Age” because the posters from this period were meant for a local audience—they were aimed at attracting rural Ghanaians to a new type of technological pageantry and storytelling. After the year 2000, tourists began to express interest in these fantastical objects, driving the prices up and creating a new market where artists painted these “posters” explicitly for export. This exhibition only shows posters targeting locals, highlighting regional styles that emerged between the coastal and inland areas, different artistic hands that became famous during the period, and the types of visual signifiers Ghanaians expected and loved to see in their own advertising.

This collection comes to Poster House through a generous loan from the Ernie Wolfe Gallery, which houses the most complete collection of Golden Age Ghanaian movie posters in the United States.


Selected Images

A movie poster of a super hero with an American flag inspired uniform running from a castle.
Captain America, 1991
Lawson Chindayen
A movie poster of a gorilla holding a tank and a woman as it towers over another gorilla and a city.
King Kong Lives, 1992
A movie poster of a kid hugging a woman with a large gun while an alien creature is behind them.
Aliens, c. 1990
D.A. Jasper
A movie poster of 2 shirtless and bloody males fighting with large swords with a monster behind.
The Barbarians, 1995
D.A. Jasper
A movie poster of a large tick like creature standing over a woman laying beside smaller creatures.
Ticks, 1993
A movie poster of 2 men covering their mouth over 2 women posing by a house silhouette.
House Party, 1990
Painted poster of a topless muscular man holding a sword.
Conan, c. 1990
Painted poster of a woman with wild 1980s air sitting in front of a giant egg with a man-sized duck emerging heroically.
Hoaward the Duck, 1989
Socrates Art