Friday, April 20, 2012

Thoughts on Propaganda Posters

World War II was certainly the golden era of propaganda posters. I recently had the opportunity to view a selection of them, and what makes them all the more striking is their immensity. When a poster is bigger than a man, the bold and simple palette of colors becomes all the more striking. Realism and minute detail mutes the effect and creates too much for the eye to take in. The impression is everything.


  1. I didn't know they were that big!

    I'm reading Mein Kampf right now and in it there are some interesting comments on posters and propaganda. About the propaganda mistake the Germans did during World War I.

    1. Some of them are as big as a movie poster you'd see in a theater, but one was some twenty feet tall, and nearly as wide (it was of a Pharasaic looking jew looming over the globe and focusing on Europe; I can't find an online version of it).

      Most posters that I see in urban areas championing the leftist cause of the day are the size of a computer print out, and are easily torn down with a single motion if one is so inclined. Otherwise they're tiny stickers, which are more resilient, but somewhat inconspicuous.

  2. I wonder if the time of the heroic poster has passed. In the '30s there were the wonderful travel posters with looming ocean liners and colorful natives, and extravagant circus posters.

    I thought movie posters usually failed for trying to include too much information.

    The Soviets kept the tradition alive for a while. My wife bought a huge three-panel poster for me when she was in the Evil Empire, but when she got home she discovered that the incompetent staff at the state store had packed two copies of one panel and left out the third one.

    The Obama poster looked 1984-ish in whatever format. In heroic size they would have been truly scary.

    Where would you put large posters today?

    1. Large posters would work outside public meeting places, and draped over the sides of large buildings where there is significant foot and auto traffic.

      I'm not sure if very large posters depicting a person/event would be anything but scary - but that's a good if it's what you're going for. Banners, symbols, etc. would be better large scale without evoking negative emotions.