Your Country Calls! Posters of the First World War
July 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
We love posters because they are beautiful. We also love posters because of the history they teach us. Nowhere is history better graphically explained than with the World War I poster. War was not a topic I was interested in school. It wasn’t until I first saw military posters that I began to find this time period interesting. When I realized that we would soon see the centennial of the outbreak of this war soon, I knew that it would be the very best time to call attention to these amazing posters.
Early in 2011 I contacted David Mihaly, Jay T. Last Curator of Graphic Arts and Social History at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California about creating a show based on my collection. I had thought about approaching other venues but had my heart set on the Huntington because of it’s reputation as a research institution.
As it turned out, my proposal was not right for The Huntington because the posters were privately owned. But the idea intrigued Mihaly, so he suggested a show based on the Library’s collection of World War I posters, and asked if I would consider consulting on object selection and preliminary research.
Of course! And I had no idea that the museum had posters in its archive, let alone World War I posters. It was an amazing treat to be invited into the basement storage of this famed institution, where we picked through over 500 fragile posters on paper to select 50 for exhibition. Of that number there were at least 20 I had never seen before. Heaven.
“Your Country Calls!” will run from August 2nd to November 3rd. The dates roughly correspond with the declaration of war on July 28, 1914 and Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. It will be held in the West Hall Gallery of the Library. Admission to this exhibit is included with paid admission to the grounds.
I have learned a tremendous amount from this experience. Museums work at pace which is very different from dealers, everything is carefully considered, and carefully handled. It was a treat to work at this pace. My initial proposal included a book, but unfortunately, funds were not available for this. My thinking is that the war lasted 4 years, so perhaps in the coming 4 years, the second part of this dream will come to fruition.
This post was written by Elizabeth Norris, Proprietor of Vintage European Posters
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