Graphic Witness: visual arts & social commentary
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The Illustrated Enemy
Caricature in maps || La Baïonnette || Louis Raemaekers illustrations || Postcards || Anti-War Artists || World War II Soviet Posters ||
I have never met anybody who wasn't against war. Even Hitler and Mussolini were, according to themselves.
David Low, New York Times February 10, 1946
The Illustrated Enemy looks at graphic depictions of national leaders and military and civilian life, as illustrated by artists both before and during World War I.

[A new section dealing with World War II Soviet posters was added in April, 2007].

These images were originally published in magazines, books, posters and postcards. The artists are French, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Spanish, British and American. Many are unabashedly patriotic, even jingoistic; others are just as firmly anti-war.

Links to related sites are provided, and since this site is a work in progress, planned additions and the inevitable corrections are scheduled for the not too distant future.

Links at the top of any page will let you navigate within the site. Arrows within any section of the site will take you to the next page, or back to a previous page.

Your questions or comments are welcomed at graphicwitness AT gmail.com
Currently, you can visit
  • MIT Visualizing Cultures . . . "weds images and scholarly commentary in innovative ways to illuminate social and cultural history. Founded in 2002 by MIT Professors John Dower and Shigeru Miyagawa, Visualizing Cultures exploits the unique qualities of the Web as a publishing platform to enable scholars, teachers, and others to: (1) examine large bodies of previously inaccessible images; (2) compose original texts with unlimited numbers of full-color, high-resolution images; and (3) use new technology to explore unprecedented ways of analyzing and presenting images that open windows on modern history." Don't miss on this site Throwing Off Asia I-III

  • Caricature in maps

    European countries have been redrawn as reflections of political stereotypes and realities -- one mid-19th century view and a second from 1914.

  • La Baïonnette

    A weekly journal of satiric illustrations focussed on the Great War (WWI) and published in France (1915-1918) -- each issue was devoted to a specific topic: national security in France; disparaging German culture through views of German women (collectively termed 'Gretchen'), fashions, or science, and of course, caricatures of the Prussian Kaiser, Wilhelm II, his son the Crown Prince, and their ally, the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, Franz Joseph. One special issue was devoted to the work of the Dutch artist, Louis Raemaekers.

  • Postcards

    The majority of the cards here show the 'other' side, the 'enemy' side, as something evil, brutish, and/or cowardly; those that deal with 'our' side have strong, healthy, even happy people, going about the business of war. A few cards address the human costs in terms of refugees, orphans,and prisoners, after the battles and the peace treaties have been concluded.

  • Anti-war artists

    Boardman Robinson, Stuart Davis, Robert Minor and Art Young whose work appeared in The Masses, a 'radical' journal, so-called for its advocacy of social justice, and A. Paul Weber, a German artist, who lived to decry two world wars .

    John Reed, who traveled with Boardman Robinson, reporting on the wars in Europe, also wrote articles for The Masses and other progressive magazines. He is best known for his reporting on the Russian Revolution in the book Ten Days that Shook the World. His essay, This Unpopular War appeared in Seven Arts in 1917, as America was exchanging neutrality for conflict in Europe.

    See also Images of American Radicalism: cover illustrations from The Masses 1913-1917, a site from which some of these images have been borrowed.

  • Other related sites

    Caricatures from the French penny press during The Siege and the Commune of Paris, and other photographic and documentary materials of the period (1871) in the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University.

    La Grande Guerre 1914 1918 à travers les revues d'époque, a rich collection of images from French and German journals of the period.

    Propaganda postcards of the Great War

    World War I:Trenches on the Web: a history of The Great War.
    For comparison, Powers of Persuasion: Poster Art from World War II, part of the National Archives Exhibition site (which also includes New Deal for the Arts, a sampling of Depression Era images from between the two wars).

    Museum of Russian posters an extensive collection of graphic materials from the late 19th century to the present, searchable chronologically by artist and subject, with historic background information as well.

    related reading:
    Historical introduction to the Soviet posters
    from the Great Patriotic War 1941-5 by Professor D.W. Spring, for Adam Matthew Publications

    Making Hitler Look Silly: Cartoons and Posters by the Soviet Artists Kukryniksi, London: Soviet War News, 1945

    Windows on the War: Soviet TASS Posters at Home and Abroad 1941-1945, edited by Peter Kort Zegers and Douglas Druick, in conjunction with the exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago, 2011 and Yale University Press.

    See also Graphic Witness related links, especially for Propaganda Remix Project.

    Psychological Warrior, especially the illustrated articles by Herb Friedman