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War posters from the 1900's.
Join the Army - Increase production - buy war bonds! The propaganda covered more or less all parts and aspects of the two world wars. A close collaboration with industry meant that larger companies produced their own posters for increased production, reduced losses etc. This allowed the government to concentrate on posters with themes such as recruitment, war loans, vigilance, etc.
Here you will find posters from USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Germany, France, Spain, Denmark, Poland, Soviet, Russia, Dutch/Neterherlands, Belgium, Finland, Italy and other Miscellaneous countries, from both world war I and World War II and other wars during 1900s! All prints are carefully restored reproductions of originals and printed on the best possible poster paper on the market
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History of American Propaganda Posters: American Social Issues through Propaganda
Leaders throughout history have been able to use propaganda to their own needs and desires. By stirring an individual’s imagination and emotions whether it is for better or worse, figures in power who create campaigns of propaganda imagery can drive a population towards their end wants. Propaganda became a common term around America during World War I when posters and films were leveraged against enemies to rally troop enlistment and garner the public opinion. Propaganda became a modern political tool engendering good will across wide demographics and gaining favor of the country.
The following infographic takes a closer look at American Social Issues expressed through Propaganda imagery.
Text: History of American Propaganda Posters
What is propaganda.
Propaganda can be described as thoughts, ideas, allegations or facts, spread deliberately to further one’s own cause or with the intention of causing damage to an opposing cause. Propaganda is commonly understood to involve any medium that strikes an illicit emotional reaction to one’s thoughts or views. It is a form of biased communication that is expressed through forms of art that do not always depict one set of thoughts in a clear way. A way to clearly stir the emotions of a populace and drive a one-sided opinion, propaganda has been a tool for the powerful to convince and push the less powerful towards a purpose.
The History of Propaganda
Although the term propaganda became common place in the United States during period of World War I, the concept has been used long since then. Some of the first to use propaganda for their own accords were the Greeks. Though the Greeks did not use propaganda as we know it now in print or movie depictions, they still used art to project their thoughts onto groups. Greeks could influence large groups of citizens and country men to their ways of thought through games, theater, assemblies, courts, and religious festivals.
After the invention of the printing press, leaders could now spread their ideas to the masses much more quickly. Philip II of Spain and Queen Elizabeth of England both used printed and written materials to organize their subjects during the Spanish Armada in the 16th century. To convince each individual nation that the other was at the aggressor, the leaders each participated in their own propaganda campaigns to distribute widespread dissent.
Newspapers during the Mexican American War sometimes took it upon themselves to influence articles and create articles that called for annexation of all Mexico by the United States. In some populations areas that were still controlled by Mexico, some U.S. writers would write or edit papers with the purpose of convincing the residents that the U.S. terms for peace should be accepted and that it was their best choice.
American Social and Political Issues Depicted Through Propaganda
America has been using propaganda in art for over a hundred years to drive the population towards a common thought. Often the premise dispensed by the government is centered toward an idea of Americanism or pride for the country over others. However, opposition for anyone in power had the same opportunity to use these same tactics through the wide distribution of newspapers and printing machines.
The Pyramid of the Capitalist System Created in 1911, The Pyramid of the Capitalist System, this cartoon directly criticized the worst parts of capitalism. As an American cartoon published, distributed and seen by many of those who were not on the top of the hierarchical capitalistic food chain, it brought to light a social issue that many were afraid to express before.
Liberty Loan Drive Promoting the purchase of war bonds during World War I was very important for the U.S. to keep the war machine driving forward and funded. The Liberty bond driving needing a boast and public attention used an ad that inspired people to purchase bonds. The ad was successful in driving funding and raised more than $17 billion.
Help Keep Your School All-American While the United States has bene a mixing pot, the issue of racism has been difficult to address. The poster, Help Keep Your School All-American, featuring Superman, one of the most popular figures with school children at the time of the ad spoke to changing a prevalently racist outlook of America at the time.
Women in the War This poster meant to drive women into the armed service. By featuring a woman working directly with a wartime device, it helped to inspire a feeling of comfortability with women serving at home and abroad.
We Can Do It Nearly everyone is familiar with “Rosie the Riverter”, but probably not everyone is familiar with her as a propaganda peace to inspire the U.S. wartime workforce. The posters produced of her were pivotal in swinging public opinion that a woman could work in a factory and outside the house to drive the wartime machine production. From 1940 to 1945 the percentage of female U.S. workforce increased from 27 percent to 37 percent.
Daisy Girl Political campaign propaganda took a strong foothold during the middle of the 19th century. At a time when nearly everyone feared nuclear warfare, Lyndon B. Johnson played off this fear and created campaigns against his opposition’s controversial comments. Though the political ad, Daisy Girl, only aired once it was still instrumental in playing on the fears of the people to swing their opinion.
Go Tell Mama! I’m For Obama Even in present day terms, America is using propaganda to stir emotion and convince others of our thinking. Artist Ray Noland emphasized the idea of community in his Go Tell Mama! I’m For Obama, playing on the ideas and sentiments of a largely community organization that needed grassroots marketing to spread advertising.
Norwich University is an important part of American history. Established in 1819, Norwich is a nationally recognized institution of higher education, the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and the first private military college in the United States.
With Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in History , you can enhance your awareness of differing historical viewpoints while developing and refining your research, writing, analysis and presentation skills. The program offers two tracks—American history and world history—allowing you to tailor your studies to your interests and goals.
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STYLE: First World War Posters and Propaganda (1900s)
First World War Posters and Propaganda (1900s) HISTORICAL FACTS
- The First World War is acknowledged as a landmark in the use of graphic design for psychological persuasion. Before cinema and radio, posters were the main form of mass propaganda.
- The artists made use of the current styles from their respective countries to produce compelling imagery.
- Thanks to colour lithograph printing which was perfected in the years proceeding 1914, posters were produced in huge quantities.
- In England, Alfred Leete introduced the pointing finger and staring eyes of Lord Kitchener with the message “Your Country Needs You.”
- The same pointing pose was adopted for Uncle Sam in America, “I want you for the U.S. Army.”
- In Germany imagery was of a simpler style.
Alfred Leete, Britons, (Lord Kitchener) Wants You . 1914, Poster, Photolithograph and letterpress
- Afred Leete made the original design for the September 1914 cover of a monthly magazine; London Opinion then remade it as a poster at the behest of the PRC. While the original version of the poster was drawn by hand, a second poster was unique among, British designs in that it used a photograph for its portrait of Lord Kitchener.
- Lord Kitchener was so famous that it was unnecessary to record his name; instead, his picture was used in place of his name, and integrated into the middle of the text, “ Britons, (Lord Kitchener) Wants You. ”
- Kitchener ’ s dramatically foreshortened right arm ends in his pointed index finger, that complements the direct eye between him and the potential recruit.
- This became a style of poster that would be copied again and again.
Alfred Leete, Who ’ s absent? Is it you? 1914, Poster, Lithograph on paper (74.3 x 50 cm)
- This design features John Bull, a personification of England who had been invented in the early 18th century, shown in his typical dress of a tailcoat, breeches, and Union Jack waist coat. The powerful squire addresses the viewer with a stern glare.
- He asks the viewer “ Is it you ? ” This moral reproach reproach with explicit question is a bold component of Bull himself.
- Note war recruitment posters very rarely show actual fighting. Here we see a small line of soldiers, the poster does not alert people to the fact that many men would die in battle. (e.g. 19,000 British soldiers would die in the battle of the Somme).
Below: We see the sense of romantic adventure offered by imaginary comrades…
Amonymous, Theres Room for You. Enlist To-day, 1916, Poster, Lithograph on paper. (76.4 x 51 cm)
Amonymous, At The Front, 1915, Poster, Lithograph on paper. (76 x 50.9 cm)
Edward Kealey, Women of Britain Say “ GO! ” , 1915, Poster, Lithograph on paper. (74.8 x 50.6 cm)
- For those recruits who proved immune to either the direct appeal of John Bull or the sense of romantic adventure offered by imaginary comrades. British recruiters developed an even more caustic weapon – emasculation.
- This poster and the one following, would appear to imply that a man cannot be a man if he is not a soldier…
- The image would appear to say that women would expect a ‘ real man ’ to go to war, and that only little boys stay at home with their mothers.
- Other posters implied that even children expected their fathers to go to war. Such posters were later seen as psychological attacks.
Below: Anti German nurse propaganda
Savile Lumley, Daddy, What Did You Do in The Great War? 1915, Poster, Lithograph on paper. (74.8 x 49.4 cm)
David Wilson, Red Cross or Iron Cross? 1917, Poster, Lithograph on paper. (75.9 x 50.9 cm)
Below: CANADIAN WAR POSTERS
Anonymous, Are You One of Kitchener ’ s Own? 1917, Poster, Lithograph on paper. (105.2×69.4cm)
Anonymous, Souscrivez a L Emprunt de la “Victtoire,” 1917, Poster.
Anonymous, Britain Expects Every Son of Israel To Do His Duty, 1917, Posters in English and Yiddish.
James Flagg, Tell that to the Marines. 1916, Poster, Lithograph (100.6 x 75.5 cm)
German attacks on allied ships resulted in the sinking of, a British luxury liner the ‘ Lusitania ’ on the 7th May 1915.
One hundred and twenty-eight Americans died in the attack that occurred off the coast of Ireland.
A sentimental newspaper report described “ a mother with a three month old child clasped tightly in her arms. ” The drowning of a mother and child became a compelling recruitment tool.
USA POSTERS: The ‘ Uncle Sam ’ image became an American Icon…
James Flagg, I Want You for U.S. Army, 1917, Poster, Colour Lithograph.
James Flagg, First Call , Poster, Colour Lithograph, 1917.
Howard Christy, Gee!! I wish were a man, 1917 , Photolithograph, (104 x 68.2 cm)
Howard Christy, I want you for the Navy, 1917 , Poster.
Lucien Jones, Emprunt , 1919 , Lithograph, Poster.(121×77.5 cm)
Abel Faivre, Pour la France Versez Votre , 1915 , Lithograph, (119.8 x 79.9 cm)
Lucien Jones, Emprunt de la Liberation, 1917 , Poster
Lucien Bernhard, Das ist der Weg zum Friedian , (That is the way to peace) Lithograph , 1917 , Poster (65.4 x 46.7cm)
- Above: Hans Rudi Erdit, Uboote Heraus !, Poster, 1917
- 8, Julius Klinger, Kregsanleihe , Poster, 1917.
REVIEW (POINTS TO REMEMBER):
The war posters have shown how:
- photographs first began to be used in posters.
- a figure pointing could appear to be confronting the viewer directly.
- cutout images can have higher impact than ones with a background remaining.
- block chunky lettering can add to the impact of a message.
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- The beginnings - Art Nouveau & Red Propaganda (1895 - 1919)
- Art Deco & Modernism (1920 - 1944)
- The distinctive poster art of a short-lived democracy (1945 - 1949)
- Socialist Realism and the continuity of the modern poster (1950 - 1955)
- A cavalcade of styles & techniques (1956 - 1970)
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The beginnings - Art nouveau & Red propaganda (1895 - 1919)
Take a look at our inventory from this period by: clicking here .
The history of poster art began in the second half of the 19th century, in the big cities of Western Europe, London and Paris. As a result of the industrial revolution, enormous amounts of goods were being produced. These new products needed advertisement, and the huge empty walls and columns of the rapidly growing cities offered a perfect platform for posters to be displayed. By then, the technique of poster art was refined: the lithography or stone printing was already invented by Alois Senefelder in 1796. Designing posters soon became an important form of art thanks to the great French master Jules Chéret, who revolutionized the printing technique by reducing the color scale to 2-3 colors. By the end of the century, poster art emerged in the big cities of Europe, and became an independent form of art.
In Hungary, the history of poster art started in 1885. This was the year when the preparations for the General Exhibition in Budapest had started. The exhibition was the central event of the celebrations related to the development of the Hungarian state. Hence every field of the local economy and culture was represented at the event. The organizers took care of the advertising of the prominent ceremony; they ordered a monumental poster from a significant academic painter of the time, Gyula Benczúr. This became the first Hungarian poster. Benczúr intended to represent every detail and segment of the exhibition: agriculture, industry, science and culture all appear symbolically. Therefore, the composition became very congested with the graphics and with the extremely lengthy text. It demonstrates the style of the 19th century's historicism, and it rather resembles a baroque document, than a modern poster. The negative critics regarding the poster suggested that a more modern visual language should have been used. Disappointingly, no good modern posters were designed for the Millennium festive of Hungary in 1896.
The change in this situation was accelerated by a big international exhibition in 1898, organized by the Museum of Applied Arts. The show, called “Modern art ” was a triumph of the Art Noveau, where a large collection of posters was also presented: the works of the best poster artists from all around Europe. The exhibition made it easy to understand the basic rules and the unique visual language of the modern poster. A good poster must possess high artistic quality where picture and text shall appear as a unit; the composition has to be clear, simple but dynamic and not crowded; the image must be spectacular but there is no need for applying the rules of perspective or plasticity. The poster became modern in a sense that the function is what determines the aesthetics, not the other way around. In the beginning, Art Noveau was a style that fitted perfectly for the purposes and functions of the poster.
On this very first international exhibition in Hungary, this style was the most dominant, it appeared on the works of the few Hungarian artists, whose posters were exhibited (for example János Vaszary). Vaszary’s participation demonstrates how effectively the painters contributed to the birth of poster art. The greatest Hungarian painters of the period created the first excellent posters in a decorative and symbolic Art Nouveu style, mainly for exhibitions. Along with Vaszary, József Rippl-Rónai, and the painters of the artist colony of Nagybánya, such as Károly Ferenczy or Béla Iványi-Grünwald are worth mentioning. Nagybánya, a small mining town in Transylvania, hosted the first Hungarian artists, who painted outdoors, who brought a revolution to art life by plein air naturalism. This artistic revolution is noticable on their exhibition posters as well. They also ahow the influence of the post-impressionist tendencies, the peinture of the Nabis, Gauguin, etc. These influences resulted a new, symbolical artistic world. The flat-like, decorative figures are dominant on other artist's posters as well, such as on Adolf Fényes ’s. Besides the painters, applied artists, Pál Horti for example, also developed a decorative Art Nouveu poster style.
By the end of the 1890s, the practice of using foreign bianco designs with Hungarian text dropped off, and the local poster design was established. The height of the Art Noveau period concurred in this field with the development of Hungarian poster art. It defined the work of Hellmann Mosonyi-Pfeiffer : he used decorative, strong contour lines, flat colored fields and the Japanese woodcuts’ way of space arrangement (for example: Parádi Gyógyvíz, Brázay sósborszesz ). Beautiful women figures were common not only on his works, but on the posters of the successful salon painter, Lajos Márk as well ( Kristály savanyúvíz, Wolf Hugó bankháza, Vígszínház - Mici hercegnő ). In these early years, a former lithographer, Ferenc Helbing became one of the most popular poster designers, and later an important teacher of the profession.
In the High Art Noveau period, two masters of poster art are outstanding due to their exceptional talent: Géza Faragó and Mihály Biró . They were two completely different characters: Faragó was the master of the decorative Art Noveau, his style is close to Mucha’s, while Biró is famous for his suggestive and powerful propaganda posters. Faragó had worked in Mucha’s studio in Paris for years, and after returning to Hungary, he developed a beautiful, dreamlike Art Noveu or so-called ‘secessionist’ style. He often depicted beautiful and elegant ladies with excellent, airy drawing and soft pastel colors (an eminent work of his is the Tungsram poster that reflects the art of the French Nabis and postimpressionism). He also enjoyed drawing very funny caricatures of typical members of society (aristocrats, soldiers, young dandies and dames, and even priests), or of himself, often as a figure of Pest’s nightlife, which was his most commonly recurring topic. Faragó had an absolutely unique sense to create breathtaking decorative designs infusing them with an absolutely charming humorous tone.
Biró’s posters received international attention and acclaim already at their time, and he is one of the most prominent masters of Hungarian poster art to this day. His works are defined by his strong leftist-proletarian conviction. He created his most famous symbolic red-hammer-wielding man poster in 1912 for Népszava (People’s Voice, a leftist magazine). He was able to incorporate the masses of the working class into one monumental symbol. Although he is best known for his propaganda posters, Biró designed some of the best commercial posters of the era ( Palma heels, Let’s go to the Edison movie theatre! ).
Biró has designed several posters for the Social Democratic Party, most of them are extremely powerful, expressive designs. These are his most sought-after works. The political poster was a new genre in the beginning of the 1910’s, no wonder that Biró is considered to be its founder. In 1919, he worked and designed posters for the new soviet state during the 133 days of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, so after its demise, he had to emigrate. This is why his career continued abroad: in Austria and Germany.
During the 1910s, cinema was a popular form of pastime, which increased the need for movie posters and other forms of film advertising. Imre Földes was one of the first artists to specialize in this field. He had excellent drawing skills that defined his highly decorative works, which is detectable on his designs, like the poster for Mascotte Bar . Földes often cooperated with Lipót Sátori , who had a more painting-based approach. They both created wonderful representations for popular silent movies. Besides them, Árpád Ékes has created excellent movie posters in a very unique style.
By the mid-1910s, the poster became an essential form of mass communication. Along with Art Noveau, other tendencies have emerged in poster art, such as the German invention, the Plakatstil or Sachplakat . Influenced by Lucien Bernhard’s very solid style, concentrating on the representation of the product’s image, Márton Tuszkay created outstanding posters (Fonott bútorok). The 1910s brought the first wave of avant-garde; some of the emerging new trends had their effect on the development of poster art.
In Hungary, the first avant-garde artist groups were born in the 1900s and 1910s, such as The Eight or the Activists – the latter group was an advocate of modern poster art. Sándor Bortnyik ’s poster for the exhibition of the Ma (Today) journal from 1919 is an outstanding work of art that bears the influence of cubism, expressionism and futurism. One of his earliest avant-garde poster is Lygeia , which is promoting a book.
Between 1914 and 1918 the first world war gave much work for the poster designers: propaganda became a strategic issue. Posters were published to promote the war loans, charity events, or to sell the hundreds of memorial books and souvernirs that told about the Great War. Almost every artist took part in the accelerated propaganda work, such as Földes, Biró, Faragó and Tuszkay.
In 1919, with the rise of the Hungarian Soviet Republic or Hungarian Republic of Councils, came a short-lasting golden age of the political poster. Years of war resulted in general discontent, which lead to a revolution, and finally to a communist putsch in 1919. For the new communist leaders, propaganda was a top priority: they ordered huge numbers of poster designs, which were printed in enormous scale and numbers. Every artists of the Hungarian avant-garde were convinced utopian leftists, and they were all working for the new government. Róbert Berény , an artist of the Eight, and Béla Uitz , a member of the Activists working close to Lajos Kassák have designed two classic propaganda posters ( Fegyverbe! – To Arms! and Vörös katonák előre – Red Soldiers Advance! ), but painters like József Nemes-Lampérth and János Kmetty, or Bertalan Pór created also exceptional pieces, just like Mihály Biró, Ödön Dankó Marcell Vértes or Jolán Szilágyi, among others. Their posters adopted motives from Biró’s earlier works, and they have learned from the avant-garde tendencies, mainly from expressionism. Hungarian political propaganda became immensely powerful.
The Soviet Republic of Hungary fell after 133 days, and Miklós Horthy soon became the country’s new governor. Nearly all the great poster artists had to emigrate from Hungary, due to their involvement in the Hungarian Soviet Republic. For the next regime, bolshevism (and the Jews) became the scapegoat for every problem of the defeated and devastated country. The new political system’s propaganda was defined by the famous sportsman and artist Miltiades Manno . His posters draw from Biró’s works by using solid political symbols and monumental figures representing the society (for example: Horthy! ). Some of Manno’s work are paraphrases of the posters of Biró, for instance the red-hammer-wielding man is quite often represented (in a negative context of course), sometimes even with supposedly semitic features, which signals the growing anti-Semitism in political propaganda.
The first period of Hungarian poster art between 1885 and 1919 was a golden age of Art Nouveau and contains the outstanding propaganda posters of the Hungarian Soviet Republic. The old historicist manner w as defeated by Art Noveau, the concurring tendency of the age. Mihály Biró and Géza Faragó are undoubtedly among the greatest poster artists, and there were numerous others. Many talented artists were working during these years, like Márk, Mosonyi-Pfeiffer, Vaszary, Helbing, Fényes, Tuszkay, Földes and Sátori, just to mention a few, creating wonderful posters and graphic design.