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"Rare 20th Century Propoganda Posters"
2003-12-05 until 2003-03-23
Victoria and Albert Museum
London, , UK

The V&A is staging an exhibition of remarkable propaganda posters drawn from many of the important conflicts and issues of the 20th century, including the Russian Civil War, the Second World War, the Spanish Civil War, Mao's Cultural Revolution, the Vietnam War, student demonstrations in Paris in 1968, Weimar Republic and popular agit-prop material from the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

Together the posters show the wide variety of images, from the satirical to the ideological and incendiary, used as forms of political protest over the last century. The posters illustrate a wide variety of approaches: highly-finished professionally produced posters of government campaigns as well as roughly-made images created by students, small protest groups and poster collectives.

The posters were recently given to the V&A by American donors, Leslie, Judith and Gabri Schreyer and Alice Schreyer Batko, through the American Friends of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Leslie and Alice Schreyer became poster enthusiasts during their student days in the 1960s. While on their honeymoon in Mexico in 1968, they acquired one of their first posters, a poster from the Mexican student protests against Dias Ordaz in the year of the Olympic games. The poster shows the Olympic rings subverted into a chain around a protestorís mouth.

Over the next twenty five years they amassed a collection of almost 3,000 posters, international in interest and dating from the 1890s to the 1980s. The one hundred propaganda posters in the V&A's exhibition form part of this collection, which will soon be assimilated into the V&A's permanent collection of one million prints and drawings.

Leslie Schreyer said: "We visited the V&A's Print Room to see the Museumís British poster collection three decades ago on a trip to London from New York. When we came to thinking of a suitable home for our collection, we couldnít think of a more appropriate place for them to be."

'Propaganda posters', say the curators of the exhibition, are compelling and immediate. They are vivid snapshots of moments in time - historical sources which give insight into major world events. They can often distill and express a cause, a conflict or an ideology with greater impact than other forms of documentation. It is remarkable how these powerful images bring past events alive to a contemporary audience.í


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