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propaganda posters
                                propaganda & war poster history

the art of propaganda poster

World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution

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.
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