Fairfield Museum opens 'Mobilizing the Homefront' exhibit of WWII posters
The display -- "Mobilizing the Homefront: Posters from World War II" -- includes government-issued posters rallying Americans to buy war bonds, conserve resources, boost defense-factory production, and plant victory gardens.
The exhibit recognizes the approaching 70th anniversary this spring of the Allies' victory over Nazi Germany.
Among the most recognized artwork are Rockwell's iconic "Four Freedoms" illustrations -- freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
Those freedoms were outlined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a January 1941 address to Congress and reflect the ideals behind the country's war efforts, the museum said in a news release.
The federal government initially rejected Rockwell's images, claiming it wanted the work of "real artists," not illustrators, according to the release. But the government changed its mind after the Rockwell paintings appeared in four consecutive issues of the "Saturday Evening Post" in 1943.
The U.S. Treasury used them as the centerpiece of a drive to sell war bonds.
Shortly after the U.S. entered the war, the government hired Young & Rubicam, a leading advertising agency, to study the public's reaction to different poster designs, the museum said. It was determined that abstract and symbolic designs, such as Jean Carlu's "Give 'em Both Barrels" (1941) tended to be misunderstood and that, in general, fine artists were unable to communicate as clearly as commercial artists.
Consequently, wartime posters became more commercial in their style and messaging. A number of artists and illustrators from Westport were among those who contributed their talents to the poster campaign.
"One of the chief aims of the government's poster campaign was to define the enemy, explaining why the U.S. needed to fight the Axis powers," the museum's curator, Andrea Renner, said in the release.
Other messages included transforming the U.S. economy to war production and appealing to women's desire to serve their country, work in homefront factories, and run efficient wartime households.
The exhibition also includes a number of objects, including war-ration books issued to each American family, dictating how much they could buy to ensure the limited supply of goods were fairly distributed. Guides on "How to Write Interesting Wartime Letters" and "Can War Marriages Be Made to Work?" are also on view.