Propaganda Art Propaganda is defined as information disseminated by an organization or government to promote a policy, idea or cause. All nations throughout history have used propaganda to instill the beliefs of their government on their citizens. When a nation is at war, they need their citizens to support their cause. Just as Germany used exhibitions such as the “Degenerate Art” exhibition as well the “Great German Art” exhibition to influence their citizens to believe in the principals instilled by the Nazi party, so has the United States done throughout their times of change and war. The piece of art I chose to use was a poster I created during my junior year while obtaining my BFA. It is a poster created to incite enthusiasm in recruitment for the Iraq War. It is an appropriation of the idea behind the poster created by James Montgomery Flagg in 1917 used for recruitment purposes in WW1 and WW2. It shows a picture of President Bush pointing at the viewer surrounded by pictures of our soldiers already in Iraq. I put the pictures in grayscale and added a splash of blue and red covering parts of the poster. The colors instill an idea of nationalism as these are the colors of our flag and whenever we see red, white and blue, we automatically think of the United States. This is propaganda meant to entice excitement and support for a war that so many felt (and still feel) should have never been fought. But this nonetheless is still important to try to encourage people for a cause that is immensely important in our country right now. Propaganda isn’t always used by governments to instill good ideals and morals. As mentioned before, the Nazi’s used propaganda to inspire ideals based on Hitler’s principals. People are easily influenced when people that are supposed to take care of our nation twist their ideas and principals to influence an unsuspecting public of their bad ideals. Just as the Germans did, the Chinese used propaganda in the 1960s to convey the communist ideals. This art portrayed healthy peasants working on happily, colorful posters, to influence the masses. These images were the complete opposite of the actuality of what really happened. “The Great Leap Forward” caused nationwide starvation and death. We have used propaganda art throughout history for multiple reasons and throughout multiple forums. The TRUTH campaign is a national anti-smoking campaign, which uses different forms of propaganda visuals to influence and inform people of the harmful affects of smoking. PETA uses propaganda to convince people killing and eating animals is wrong and unhealthy for our environment. Some of these forms of propaganda are helpful and some are hurtful. Propaganda isn’t always in the form of art, but also in the form of actions and words. Extremists use their influences throughout the masses to manipulate groups of people into believing what they believe. They only remain important if people believe in what they want them to. Without support from the people of our nation, important actions would not take place. Wars would not be fought with success; ideals would not be spread with accomplishment. It is important to use the governments’ influence to instill support in their principles. The poster I use in this project shows the effort to spread this influence. With the spread of technology, there are many forms and ways to get our ideas out to others. It is more difficult nowadays to keep the interest of people with the massive amounts of information floating around. Propaganda art use by the government is important because it reaches out to the public to influence them to support their nation in whatever time of need they may be in.
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