War Art

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War Art

Exhibition Type
Temporary Exhibition
18 Dec 2010
— 30 Sep 2011

In the year that signals the 65th anniversary of the end of greatest conflict in human history, the Museu do Caramulo presents the exhibition “A Arte da Guerra – Propaganda da II Guerra Mundial” (The Art of War – WW II Propaganda”).

The exhibition showcases propaganda produced during the world conflict, through examples that show that the war was fought not only in the battlefield, but also in the background, as the people of the involved nations were mobilised in an active support of the war effort by the powerful images in the posters.

The printed poster was the main form of propaganda, especially since it was easy to produce and could be glued almost anywhere, so that the message was always present among the citizens, asking them to give more of themselves, produce more and sacrifice themselves for the sake of the war effort. The posters were also the most democratic way of propaganda, reaching equally all kinds of people. In the United States alone, more than 3000 different posters were produced. This temporary exhibition aims to show propaganda under the light of an art form, which it has assumed, carrying the purpose of any other work of art: to raise emotions and change the world.

Produced by Ministries and government agencies, independent organisations (such as the résistance) or private companies, this means of communication spread its message by combining illustrations with strong emotional contents and easy-to-remember texts. If in World War I the posters were darker and more artistic, World War II propaganda, especially after 1943, began to make use of simple text messages and stylised images created by the advertising industry for greater efficiency and understanding.

Like other forms of propaganda used in that time, posters galvanised patriotism and called for a contribution to the national cause. Such contribution could take different forms, such as enlistment in the army, food and other essential goods rationing, the production effort of the war industries, being wary of conversations in public spaces, or the purchase of war bonds. In the United States, these bonds financed the war effort by more than 42%, a considerable value in a country that in 1942 came to spend 100 million dollars a day to support the war effort.