Propaganda art during the war

Propaganda began in the first world war and quickly became the method of spreading hate and fear


Originating in World War One as literature thrown out of planes into enemy territory, propaganda frequently contained text slating the enemy and backing the ‘winning’ nation. The Volume of World War One propaganda was unprecedented due to its smart wording and rapid experimentation. Moving from literature, the power of the image was becoming recognized as portraying powerful emotion, by 1916, 7 million leaflets had originated from the Bureau, World War 2 saw tens of thousands of different leaflets and posters dropped in there billions by airplane.

Wellington House was founded on the 2nd of September 1914, where the War Propaganda Bureau began. This was the UK’s way of spreading propaganda messages throughout the country and abroad without retribution from the public. They released work through well-known publishers swaying the public from the fact that the government was manufacturing propaganda.

Many countries advances in democracy and universal suffrage meant more people had influence removing governments. The nature of war meant governments had to retain the public support, resulting in propaganda art, styles altered into illustrations, paintings, prints and cartoons, containing bold colours and a main illustration with a bold message attempting to target the public.

Objectives varied from encouraging men to join the army, aiding from home, rationing and involving women. Tactics improved from honouring war heroes to shaming those that did not go, figure 4 was created by British Savile Lumley and was used in WW1 to target men with families fearing what their children might think of them in the future for not joining.


By filling the men’s jobs as they were at war, women were recruited as railway guards, ticket conductors, postal workers, and police. One of the largest employers of women was the munitions factories where they created 80% of British weapons, today the posters involving woman are still seen as being a symbol for women, and feminism. Women were being portrayed as the problem and this was not taken well especially by the ones working towards the war efforts.


After the Worlds Wars propaganda machines were stopped. This is why many of the posters came from soviet and political activists instead of the west, although there were posters still emerging from the UK’s involvement. Propaganda began to change from being solely government influenced to having public artists creating their own art to voice individual opinions on issues of interest. The changes showed that development of propaganda styled posters was much more varied and unveiled artistic talent.



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