Call to Action: American Posters in World War I

Friday September 12, 2014 - Sunday December 7, 2014

Closed October 19-21 and November 25-30.

Call to Action: American Posters in World War I

Howard Chandler Christy (American, 1873-1952), Gee!! I Wish I Were a Man, I'd Join the Navy, 1918, and John E. Sheridan (American, 1880-1948), Rivets Are Bayonets: Drive Them Home, 1917. Lithographic posters. Davison Art Center collection (photos: R. J. Phil).

Following the declaration of war in Europe in August 1914, each of the rival powers adopted extensive advertising campaigns to recruit soldiers, encourage women factory workers, and raise the money essential for this new, "total" war. Dramatic posters soon covered train stations, city squares, and stores, exhorting passers-by to new levels of patriotism and self-sacrifice.

After the United States entered the war in April 1917, Charles Dana Gibson founded the Division of Pictorial Publicity to organize American illustrators for war posters. These posters recruited soldiers, celebrated shipbuilding, called for women war workers, and urged homemakers to prepare alternative foods so wheat could be shipped to the army and allies overseas. With vibrant colors and dramatic strokes, the designers reinforced ideals of masculinity and femininity, as well the integration of immigrants into a unified concept of American identity.

The exhibition was co-curated by Clare Rogan, DAC Curator, and Rebecca Wilton '15, Jim Dine Curatorial Intern, with the support of the Wesleyan University Office of Academic Affairs.

Related events:

Opening reception
Thursday, September 11, 5:00-7:00 pm
Gallery talk by Clare Rogan, Curator, at 5:30 pm
Free of charge and open to the public.

Posters, Propaganda, and the American Experience in World War I
Thursday, November 13, 5:00 pm, CFA Hall
Extended gallery hours 12:00-5:00 pm
Roundtable discussion with Sean McCann, Professor of English; Ronald Schatz, Professor of History; and Richard S. Slotkin, Olin Professor of American Studies, Emeritus.

Roundtable discussion with three Wesleyan University professors on the role of posters and propaganda in the mobilization of the United States during World War I. Topics will include the experience of immigrant and African American soldiers, as well as the cultural response to propaganda, and tensions between state power and democracy.