"Manufacturing Consent: Female Imagery in 20th Century Political Propaganda"
A unique exhibition of Matt Bergman's private collection of vintage war and revolutionary propaganda posters.
Gallery hours: Wed - Sunday, 12noon - 5pm (show runs through Sunday, May 1)
Lecture in Kay Hall: view the recording of Matt's lecture
For Matt Bergman, collecting propaganda posters melds his three passions: art, politics and history. This exhibition is a special selected group of his vast personal collection of propaganda posters. The exhibition explores commonality in depictions of women across national boundaries and historical time periods in which female imagery is used to manufactured political consensus and inspire sacrifice. It includes posters from the United States, Europe and Russia, spans from the First World War to the Cold War.
In war and revolution, popular participation and personal sacrifices are the determinants of success. To achieve in their political and military objectives, governing elites must persuade citizens to sacrifice their lives and treasure and jettison their traditional roles in the society. Throughout history, art has been a vehicle of political persuasion in war and revolution to motivate followers and castigate adversaries. However, at the dawn of the 20th Century technological advances on color lithography combined with the birth of modern advertising technique to produce mass communication of targeted propaganda. These techniques enabled political elites to deploy deeply emotional images and cultural icons to persuade their citizens to undertake the sacrifice and dislocation that war and revolution demands and subjugate their individual interests to the common objective.
Throughout that period, female imagery was the most common image used to manufacture this consensus. Depending on the desired political or military objective from the intended viewer, women were depicted as nubile warriors, soiled industrial workers, stately matriarchs or ravished victims. Yet in every respect the female image was carefully calibrated to trigger the desired emotional response in the viewer and motivate the desired behavior.
This exhibition of political propaganda posters from the United States, Europe and Russia spans from the First World War to the Cold War and explores commonality in depictions of women across national boundaries and historical epochs. Rather than organize the artwork chronologically or by nation, the exhibition has grouped posters by the way in which female imagery is used to manufacture political consensus and inspire common sacrifice. Our objective is not to promote any political or social position or advocate a particular interpretation of 20th Century history. Rather, by illustrating the historic power of gender images in 20th Century propaganda we seek to promote a deeper understanding of the importance of cultural imagery in political behavior and robust dialogue on the intersection between culture and politics.