World War One Posters: An Anniversary Collection
World War I marked the first use of color lithographic posters as a propaganda tool, and they formed a major method of communications on both sides of the conflict. Governments were compelled to persuade citizens in the justness of the war's cause and the importance of participation — especially in the United States, which waited nearly three years to enter the fray. Recruitment posters exhorted viewers to enlist in the armed forces by appealing to a sense of duty and patriotism and occasionally promising training in a variety of practical skills. Americans remaining on the home front were urged to buy Victory Bonds, support the Red Cross, knit socks, and contribute in other ways to the war effort.
A renaissance of poster art had occurred immediately prior to World War I, thanks to advancements in printing techniques and materials, and the trend attracted legions of artists and craftsmen. James Montgomery Flagg's celebrated "I Want You for the U. S. Army," with its stern, finger-pointing image of Uncle Sam, remains a powerful and much-imitated symbol of patriotism. Other artists whose works appear in this collection include J. C. Lyendecker, Howard Chandler Christy, Gordon Grant, Harvey Dunn, Ludwig Hohlwein, Frank Brangwyn, and Theophile Steinlen. With their deep-rooted appeal to emotions and their powerful influence on behavior, these striking posters constitute an enduringly significant and historically valuable art form.