Selling war or peace is nothing new, and this timely new museum exhibit examines both.
Posters and Patriotism: Selling World War I in New York opens today with dozens of posters, flyers, magazine artworks, sheet music covers and more.
The exhibit examines themes such as nationalism, fears surrounding immigration, and conflicts over freedom of expression that have emerged and reemerged in our national consciousness throughout American history, especially during times of crisis.
With those themes back on the front pages today, this exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York is extra relevant.
Here’s the backstory:
When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, New York City’s artists and illustrators were enlisted in the war effort. Many of them worked for the federal government’s new Division of Pictorial Publicity. Posters and Patriotism: Selling World War I in New York examines the outpouring of posters, flyers, magazine art, sheet music covers, and other mass-produced images created by these New Yorkers to stir the American public to wartime loyalty, duty, and sacrifice.
From the outbreak of the European conflict in 1914, however, New York had also been a city at war with itself—a place where debates about ethnic and racial loyalty, pacifism, the right to side with France, Belgium, and England or Germany, and the very meaning of patriotism spawned impassioned art for a mass audience.
In rediscovering a wartime dialogue between images of conformity and dissent, Posters and Patriotism showcases over 60 examples from the World War I poster collection donated to the Museum by railroad executive and financier John W. Campbell (1880-1957) in 1943, most being exhibited for the first time, as well as the work of defiant artists in such colorful publications as The Masses, The Fatherland, and Mother Earth.
Museum of the City of New York is at Fifth Ave. and 103rd St.
Museum and Museum Store are open daily 10AM to 6PM
Chalsty’s Café is open daily 110AM to 5PM.
Seniors, Students: $12 (with I.D.)
Under age 20: Free