History Reviewer

Paret, P.; Lewis, B.; Paret, P. Persuasive Images 1992

Although this book is derived from an American collection of posters, the range of posters shown is very wide-ranging. After a brief general poster history pre-1914, the book contains many posters from most (if not all) of the belligerent nations involved in warfare during the twentieth century – a century in which propaganda and the art of advertising has flourished. Most of the posters are accompanied by useful snippets of information which tries to set the context for the poster, and discusses the significance of some of the symbolic imagery used in the designs.

The book deals with the First and Second World Wars, the Russian Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the rise of the Nazis and briefly considers the use of posters post-1945, an era in which the television became the prominent medium, and the poster largely a support medium.

A must-have (for at least a view) for anyone interested in the history of wartime poster design.

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Leslie William Spears: An Enquiry into the use of propaganda on the Home Front during World War Two with special reference to the role and effectiveness of the poster as a means of conveying Government policy

Original typescript, 1998.

Dissertation (M.A.) – University of Southampton, Winchester School of Art, Division of History of Art and Design, 1998.

No abstract.

I attended some sessions at Winchester School of Art, with Brandon Taylor, re: Art & Propaganda, and Leslie was inspired to write this MA. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never had a chance to read it, maybe now I’m back in the area, I might find time!


British World War II Posters: Motivating a Nation

“Although there were more resources to reach the public in World War II than in World War I, the poster again became an indispensable means of stirring the public. With its bright colors and catchy slogans, the poster served as a primary tool of government propaganda, calling for patriotism, national security, production, and being on guard against the invader.

The adage, “the walls have ears,” was illustrated several times, and produced new challenges for graphic artists. What were the symbols for national security? How could they portray the need for a nearly paranoid caution against an insidious enemy?

The posters that succeeded the best relied upon graphic simplicity and an absence of emotion to bring civilians together in a common fight against the enemy. Accenting the close relation between the armed forces and production, English women and others were exhorted to work in the factories and make the sacrifices needed for the war.

The Blair-Murrah exhibition of British World War II posters is possibly the finest and most complete in portraying the subtleties of this complex time. This collection of vivid, exciting posters demonstrates the power of simple, clear graphics to motivate a nation.”

Visit site, or see the other political histories which can be hired out.


Weapons of Mass Communication

“In the 21st century we have become accustomed to mass communication developing to unbelievably sophisticated levels, yet a new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum shows how for a large part of the 20th century, the humble poster was the key means of influencing public opinion.

The exhibition explores this phenomenon by presenting hundreds of the most eye-catching and iconic posters used to sell war and attendant ideologies from WWI to the present day.

Running until March 31 2008 Weapons of Mass Communication mines the museums’ vast poster archive to present a snapshot of the ideas that have been used to both promote and oppose conflicts and political ideas. ”

Read full entry. The accompanying book: “War Posters: Weapons of Mass Communication” by James Aulich is beautifully produced, and some information remains online.