unidentified artist, Republican Party candidate William L. McKinley, c. 1896–1900; lithograph on paper, 17 x 11 3/16 inches; Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Frank Westlake, Black Panther and Peace and Freedom Party candidate Eldridge Cleaver, 1968; offset lithography, 22 1/8 x 16 3/8 inches; Courtesy of Hal Wert.

unidentified artist, Democratic Party candidates John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, 1960; offset lithography, 20 1/2 x 13 3/16 inches; Courtesy of Hal Wert.

DATE

Every day

September 1, 2018

- January 19, 2019

TIME

LOCATION

Works on Paper

Opens September 1, 2018 – January 19, 2019

Historically, the American political poster has been sorely neglected as an art form and has played a minor cultural role, despite its effectiveness in conveying a political message to millions of voters often through the skillful use of visual communication. Sign of the Times, which features 50 posters from the nineteenth through the twenty-first century, has made every effort to bring the alluring, eye-popping political graphics to the forefront and positions the “great American political poster” as art.

The political campaign poster had its humble beginnings in the 1840s when the new lithographic printing process, largely developed in Germany, was employed to satisfy a growing demand for attractive printed material. Hand-colored portraits of presidential and vice-presidential candidates were first produced for the 1844 race between Whig Party candidate Henry Clay and the eventual winner, James K. Polk of the Democratic Party. Technological innovation and the lithographic process in the 1880s ushered in a golden age of lithography, roughly 1890-1912, which produced some of the most intricate and colorful posters in the exhibition. The exhibition examines the styles of political posters through two World Wars and into the mid-century. The influence of the counter-culture of the 1960s and 70s, and more recent trends into the twenty-first century are also explored.

The exhibition was organized as a Program of ExhibitsUSA, a national division of the Mid-America Arts Alliance and The National Endowment for the Arts.

DATE

Every day

September 1, 2018

- January 19, 2019

TIME

LOCATION

Works on Paper

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