Your Country Calls! Posters of the First World War

Aug. 1, 2014Nov. 3, 2014
Library, West Hall


Posters from World War I spotlight the use of graphic arts as propaganda

This summer marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the “Great War” that involved all the world’s major economic powers and claimed the lives of some 9 million combatants. To commemorate the anniversary, The Huntington presents a new exhibition that examines how World War I was waged not just by soldiers on the battlefield, but by citizens on the homefront through an innovative use of graphic arts that worked to stir patriotism and service through the war years that spanned 1914–18.

Drawn entirely from The Huntington’s collection of prints and ephemera, “Your Country Calls! Posters of the First World War” features approximately 50 colorful vintage posters designed to mobilize citizens into action for the collective effort to win the war.

“When World War I began, posters were already a powerful advertising tool and a successful medium of artistic expression,” said David Mihaly, the Jay T. Last Curator of Graphic Arts and Social History at The Huntington and curator of the exhibition. “They were able to be printed quickly and inexpensively, making posters the ideal choice for spreading wartime propaganda.”

The exhibition features the work of American artists such as James Montgomery Flagg (who created the iconic image of Uncle Sam announcing “I Want YOU for U.S. Army”), Charles Buckles Falls, and Edward Penfield, and their European counterparts including Francisque Poulbot, Alfred Roller, Mario Porgoni.

“These works are so stunning, powerful, and engaging, that it’s really no surprise they aroused quick and committed responses in their day,” said Mihaly, “and still elicit reactions today.”

Related Programs

Taste of Art: Cooking American

Aug. 9 (Saturday) 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Explore a wartime era of food rationing, opulent dining, and melting pot possibilities in an exhibition tour and cooking workshop led by Maite Gomez-Rejón of ArtBites. $90.

Book Group Series: Notable Novels of World War I

Aug. 20–Nov. 19 (Wednesdays) 10 a.m.–noon

Explore themes from the First World War in a book discussion series led by facilitator Judith Palarz. The reading list includes All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford, and Regeneration by Pat Barker. (Receive a 10 percent discount on series titles in The Huntington gift shop by showing your registration confirmation.) $95.

Curator Tour

Aug. 28 (Thursday) 4:30 p.m.

Join David Mihaly, the Jay T. Last Curator of Graphic Arts and Social History, for a private tour of the exhibition. $15.

Family Cooking Class: Homemade Preserves

Oct. 25 (Saturday) 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Taking inspiration from the colorful posters in the exhibition, preserving expert chef Ernest Miller leads an engaging history lesson and hands-on workshop on how to make homemade preserves. Ages 7–12. $35. Fee includes one accompanying adult.