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History Reviewer

Zemen, Z. Selling the War: Art and Propaganda in World War II London: Orbis, 1978

A general work, with a substantial section upon British propaganda. Very heavily illustrated, in fact the images almost overpower the text, but the text is quite ‘learned’ and includes many important details, such as the significance of some of the images contained in the posters, including flags. Posters are compared with other types of propaganda, not simply left to stand alone.

Categories
History Reviewer

Clark, T. Art and Propaganda London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1997

Aimed largely at the undergraduate market (unfortunately un-referenced), the book beings with a brief discussion of the connotations of the word ‘propaganda’: “For some ‘propaganda art’ is a contradiction in terms: ‘propaganda’ suggests government-sponsored censorship, intimidation and deception, while ‘art’ implies the pursuit of beauty, truth and freedom.”

Clark argues against this negative and unbalanced view, examining the complex relationship between art and politics, demonstrating how works of art can have a political purpose, and considering how particular art styles become associated with political systems.

Clark considers not only the state propaganda produced by the dictatorship states, but also deals with the question of propaganda as produced by democratic states, from the late 19th century to the 1990s

The image used on the front cover is one of the best remembered posters from the Second World War, and is contrasted in the book with a poster used in the First World War which highlights the differing roles of women during the world wars.

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