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Art For War’s Sake

February 2024
1min read

A GENERATION OF TOP ILLUSTRATORS HELPED WIN WORLD WAR I WITH THEIR PAINTBRUSHES

To follow americans’ changing views of war, one need only look at their posters. World War II posters were blunt, direct, and powerfully patriotic, while it goes without saying that a “Vietnam poster” will be antiwar, most likely decorated with flowers, dripping letters, and peace signs. In World War I, however, Americans still held romantic notions about war, and without radio, television, or sound movies, most propaganda had to be disseminated in print. The country’s greatest illustrators—Christy, Flagg, Gibson, Leyendecker—considered it a privilege to donate their services, even as modernism was starting to make inroads on the great age of illustration they embodied. The resulting display of poster art at its zenith can be seen in World War I Posters , by Gary A. Borkan (Schiffer Publishing, 240 pp., $49.95). Approximate prices are included for collectors.

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