Politics on Paper: Election Posters and Ephemera from The Wolfsonian–FIU Collection
In election campaigns today, candidates and parties rely above all on electronic media to deliver their messages. No major campaign can succeed without strategies for television and radio advertisements, websites, and social media. Before the Second World War, candidates for office depended on other modes of mass communication to reach large numbers of voters. Posters—inexpensive to produce and display in public places where they would be seen by thousands of people every day—were a particularly important instrument of political conflict during the early twentieth century. Politics on Paper features election posters and other political ephemera from the United States and Europe between 1918 and 1945, drawn from the collections of The Wolfsonian–FIU and the Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Study Centre. Many of the posters and other items in this exhibition use graphic strategies widely employed by propaganda agencies during the First World War (1914–1918): the visual demonization of opponents, the use of symbolically meaningful color, and the manipulation of scale to indicate strength and weakness. As the works shown here demonstrate, election campaigns after the war adopted these and other means to command the attention of viewers and present them with vivid, simple, and stirring narratives of conflict between good and bad, friend and enemy.