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Bruce Museum
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Greenwich, CT 06830
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Exhibition. Patriotic Persuasion: American Posters Of The First World War

Bruce Museum
1/20/18 - 6/10/18

https://brucemuseum.org/site/exhibitions_detail/patriotic-persuasion-american-posters-of-the-first-world-war

Patriotic Persuasion: American Posters of the First World War features a selection of works from the “Great War” donated to the Bruce Museum by Beverly and John W. Watling III. The exhibition, which will be on view January 20 through June 10, 2018, commemorates the centennial of the entry of the United States into that epochal conflict.

The United States’ involvement in World War I lasted only 20 months, from April 1917 to November 1918, but the nation’s military and propaganda strategies were of enormous consequence. In the era of radio and film’s infancy, posters were an essential medium; there were more than 20 million posters printed from about 2,500 designs.

Many of the posters on display in Patriotic Persuasion were originally collected by Mr. Watling’s stepfather, Charles B. Warren, Jr., and his brother, Wetmore Warren, in Washington, D.C., where their father, Charles B. Warren, served on the staff of the Judge Advocate General during the war. 

The variety of approaches that government agencies used to encourage widespread participation in the war effort was impressive, from the allure of artist Howard Chandler Christy’s young woman who, in a 1917 poster,
seductively proclaimed, “I Want You for the Navy,” to the inquisitional tone of a war loan poster of the next year: “Are you 100% American? Prove it! Buy U.S. Government Bonds.”

Other posters combine image and text in ingenious, surprising, and sometimes disturbing combinations. In one of the iconic wartime posters from 1918, artist Joseph Pennell powerfully imagined a partially destroyed Statute of Liberty and New York City aflame in the background, with the plea, “That Liberty Shall Not Perish from the Earth / Buy Liberty Bonds / Fourth Liberty Loan.”


Patriotic Persuasion: American Posters of the First World War is organized by Elizabeth D. Smith, Zvi Grunberg Resident Fellow 2017-18, in consultation with Ken Silver, Adjunct Curator at the Bruce Museum and author of Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-garde and the First World War, 1914-1925. The exhibition is generously supported by The Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund, with support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.

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