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Posters as Munitions

Posters as Munitions, 1917 showcases the depth and breadth of the collection through a series of works on exhibition for the first time at the National WWI Museum in Kansas City, MO. Posters from France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the United States and more are featured, providing a sense of the global nature of this form of communication.

Soon after the outset of World War I, the poster, previously the successful medium of commercial advertising, was recognized as a means of spreading national propaganda with unlimited possibilities. Its value as an educational or stimulating influence was more and more appreciated. The poster could impress an idea quickly, vividly, and lastingly.

In almost every country involved in the war, the poster played its part as a munition of the war. The posters of 1914-1918 illustrate every phase and difficulty and movement: from recruiting to munitions work to war loans to the Red Cross to women’s work.

French posters illustrate deep-felt emotion and the poignant appeal of the artists available to the poster production industry. From the early posters for the Journee du Poilu (Soldier’s Day), French war posters had the stamp of genuine understanding of the purpose in view. They exhibit hard-edged gaiety, nationalism and imperialism, humor and sex appeal, tragedy and victory. Even the futuristic made its appearance with a poster showing a machine riding high above the trenches that would “finish the war.”