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The art of battle: a celebration of posters that inspired a nation through the "War to End All Wars".

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WORKING FOR the Division of Pictorial Publicity, created by Pres. Woodrow Wilson as part of the controversial Committee on Public Information, Philadelphia Sketch Club artists were part of a national effort to motivate citizens to support the war effort. More than 300 of the U.S.'s foremost cartoonists, designers, illustrators, and painters signed up to work for the division, contributing to the government's efforts to shape and mobilize public opinion of The Great War, as it was called then. (The "War to End All Wars" was not known as World War I until the commencement of World War II a couple of decades later.)

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From April 1917--when the U.S. got involved in the conflict; it started in Europe three years earlier--through the war's end in November 1918, over 700 poster designs were submitted to government agencies, including the Food Administration, Liberty Loan Program, and Red Cross. At the time--well before the advent of television--posters were powerful tools of mass communication and persuasion, and the collective work of these artists constituted a massive and effective advertising campaign. In fact, Congress indicated that two-thirds of the cost of the war was raised by poster bond drives.

"These posters are among World War I's most lasting images," notes David Eisner, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, where an exhibition of these images, "Inspiring A Nation," curated by the U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center, was on display earlier this spring. "Some of the nation's leading artists, including members of the Philadelphia Sketch Club, donated their time and work to create them. In that spirit of patriotic service, the [NCC] is pleased to participate in the ... celebration of the Sketch Club's 150th anniversary."

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The Philadelphia Sketch Club began operations in 1860, founded by six former students of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts who wanted to improve their skills as illustrators. Over the years, Sketch Club members have been influential in the development of American art, regionally and nationally. Members have included luminaries such as Thomas Eakins, Howard Chandler Christy, Thomas Anshutz, Joseph Pennell, N.C. Wyeth, and dozens of members from the golden age of illustration. An extensive celebration of this heritage, including collaborative exhibitions and special events, will take place throughout the year.

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Philadelphia's National Constitution Center, meanwhile, is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the ideas and values it represents. The Center serves as a museum, an education center, and a forum for debate on constitutional issues. The museum tells the story of the Constitution from Revolutionary times to the present through more than 100 interactive, multimedia exhibits; film; photographs; text; sculpture; and artifacts--and features a theatrical performance, "Freedom Rising." The Center also houses the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach, which serves as a hub for national constitutional education. Also, as a nonpartisan forum for constitutional discourse, the Center presents--without endorsement--programs that contain diverse viewpoints on a broad range of issues.

Joseph Pennell, "That Liberty Shall From the Earth," U.S. Treasury Dep Liberty Loan (1918).

Howard Chandler Christy, "Gee!! I Wish I Were a Man, I'd Join the Navy," U.S. Navy Recruiting Bureau (1918).

Howard Chandler Christy, "I Want You for the Navy," U.S. Navy Recruiting Bureau (1917).

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Charles Buckles Falls, "Books wanted; For our Men in Camp and 'Over There,'" American Library Association (c. 1918).

H. Devitt Welsh, "They Give Their Lives, Do You Lend Your Savings," U.S. Treasury Dept. (c. 1917).

John E. Sheridan, "Hey Fellows! Your Money Brings the Book We Need When We Want It," American Library Association, United War Work Campaign (1918).

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Charles Buckles Falls, "Learn and Earn," U.S. Army Ordnance Recruiting Poster Number 1 (1919).

John E. Sheridan, "Food is Ammunition, Don't Waste It," U.S. Food Administration (c. 1918).

Charles Buckles Falls, "E-E-E-Yah-Yip, Go Over With U.S. Marines," U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting (c. 1917).

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Charles Buckles Falls, "This Device on Hat or Helmet Means U.S. Marines," U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting (c. 1917).

Charles Buckles Falls, "For Our Aviators," U.S. Army Air Service (c. 1918).

Charles Buckles Falls, "You, Wireless Fans, Help the Navy," U.S. Naval Recruitment (c. 1918).

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Title Annotation:USA Yesterday
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2010
Words:732
Previous Article:The Poetics of Place.
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