Wings for Victory (1942)Manning de V. Lee; 33” x 16”;A-, P; calendar
“Propaganda” is such an ugly word, don’t you think? Today we want to take a look at various ways graphic designers have elicited enthusiasm for unavoidable military conflict. One angle, which results in a cornucopia of brilliant imagery, involves depicting the unbeatable vigor of one’s country’s military effort.(Here, also, the Stars and Stripes and the Statue of Liberty serve to make prominent that the virtues of the homeland being defended are irresistibly beautiful.) Till We Meet Again (1942) ? Illegible; 28″ x 21 1/2″;A-,L
“Vigor” here is far from confined to whizz-bang weaponry. Graphic artists have made inroads into depicting an unmistakable cogency in the courage and modesty of soldiers.
Ault & Wiborg (1942)Symbols of Heroism/Salute to Women of Russia; 12 1’2″ x 9 1/4″
In this tribute to the Allies by a Canadian manufacturer of printing inks, the premise of being endowed with extraordinarily encouraging resilience reaches all the way to a most distant and unique form of contribution. This would be an instance of cultivating the strange vagaries of war to produce (visually) a fascinating and very effective dramatic motif.
Let’s Go, Step it Up Boys (c.1942) Anonymous;39″ x 21 “;A-,L
Another wing of agitprop design—of which we have many great examples—is homage to war-workers back home, showing them (and the rest of the civilian population), in a vibrant way, what vital soldiers they are, in their own right. Here the assembly line becomes a kind of Front Line, with staunch dependables giving their best, in order to produce the peppy product flying by.
Let’s All Fight (1942) Anonymous;14″ x 21 7/8;A-,P
Here the two armies are shown in one heroic, panoramic sweep.
In this industrial saga, the worker is shown to be a giant, lending impressive weight to the war effort.
Don’t Let That Shadow (1942) Lawrence Beall Smith;40″ x 27 1/2″; A-,L
One of the most efficient means of mobilizing the general population in wartime is recourse to those least able to endure what the enemy has in mind. This example is fascinating from the point of view of graphics, inasmuch as it mimics the work of the formidable Italian fascist designer, Gino Boccasile. It is an object lesson on incisive modelling’s being able to carry the day.
This time from World War I, but the same kind of wake-up call.
Shoptalk May Be Sabotalk ( c.1942)Morris;24 1/2″ x 18 1/4″;A-,L
Another genre of war alert concerns the issue of spies on the homefront. There are many great noirish, even surrealist images deriving from that situation. Here is one of the best of them!