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propaganda & war poster history
the art of propaganda poster
World War I and the Bolshevik
World War I meant a new role for
the poster: propaganda. Indeed, the war ushered in the biggest advertising
campaign to date, critical to the wartime communication needs of every combatant
from raising money, recruiting soldiers and boosting volunteer efforts, to spurring
production and provoking outrage at enemy atrocities. America alone produced about 2,500
poster designs and approximately 20 million posters nearly 1 for every 4 citizens
in little more than 2 years.
The lessons of brilliant American
advertising in WWI were not lost on the Bolsheviks, who turned to poster art to help win
their civil war against the Whites. Lenin and his followers proved to be the pioneering
masters of modern propaganda, and the poster became a weapon which would be used
throughout the century in both hot and cold wars everywhere.
World War II and the End of Stone Lithography
The poster again played a large
communication role in World War II, but this time it shared the spotlight with other
media, mainly radio and print. By this time, most posters were printed using the mass
production technique of photo offset, which resulted in the familiar dot pattern seen in
newspapers and magazines. The use of photography in posters, begun in the Soviet Union in
the twenties, now became as common as illustration. After the war, the poster declined
further in most countries as television became an additional competitor.