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October Issue 2003

McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC, Exhibits Posters of The Great War

It was called the "War to End All Wars," "The Great War" and "The War to Make the World Safe for Democracy." Through Dec. 7, 2003, a powerful exhibit of posters from World War I will be on display at the University of South Carolina's McKissick Museum in Columbia, SC.

The exhibit of 36 colorful and artistic posters, some of which date to 1914, evokes the sentiments and beliefs that inspired and sustained one of the bloodiest wars in history. The posters are from North America, Austria, Canada, France and Great Britain and convey the important themes of their time: recruiting, war loans, famine relief, patriotism and straight propaganda. World War I involved millions of combatants from around the world. It introduced technology to warfare, and it redrew the map of Europe.

The posters are windows into history and preserve the contemporary depictions of doughboys, Tommies and Red Cross nurses and Salvation Army lassies, families and industry, trenches, tanks and airplanes. Notable poster artists include Lucien Jonas from France and the Americans Howard Foster Christy, Harrison Fisher, James Montgomery Flagg and Joseph Pennell, whose famous Liberty Loan poster is among the most significant pieces in the exhibit and collection.

The exhibit includes posters from USC's comprehensive Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection.

In addition to reflecting world change in the early 20th century and documenting the emerging war technology of the time - machine guns, barbed wire, gas, tanks and airplanes - the posters reflect a sweeping change in Western art. During the war years, modernism displaced the artistic traditions dominant since the Renaissance. The exhibit shows a variety of artistic expression, from advertising, art lithography and the heroic tradition to the emergent tradition of modernism to confront the world crisis of the war.

The Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection was established by USC English professor Matthew J. Bruccoli in honor of his father, a World War I veteran who was severely wounded in France. As a research archive, it documents the literary, historical and cultural aspects of World War I. It includes more than 3,000 items ranging from novels, poetry, memoirs, manuscripts and military newspapers to original art, posters, cartoons, sheet music and photo albums.

For more information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the museum at 803/777-7251, or on the web at (www.cla.sc.edu/MCKS).

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