March 25, 1998 in Nation/World

Poster Show A Lesson In U.S. History Exhibit Images Range From Ads To War Protests

Carl Hartman Associated Press

A drawing of a female nude that won second prize in a contest for the cover of an upscale magazine 100 years ago went on the World Wide Web on Tuesday in a show of posters at the Museum of American Art.

The date was August 1897 and Maxfield Parrish, one of the period’s most popular artists, did the brightly colored lithograph for the monthly “Century.” Now no longer published, the magazine was a kind of 19th century “New Yorker,” according to the Library of Congress.

Parrish’s designs, often featuring lush settings and female nudes, were produced for a wide variety of magazines, said Therese Thau Heyman, curator of the “Posters American Style” show.

All 120 posters in the show are online, from 1890s bicycle ads to a sharp image of the cockpit of a Boeing 777. Also included are images such as a stern, finger-pointing Uncle Sam recruiting for World War I, Marilyn Monroe poised over Niagara Falls in a movie ad and Norman Rockwell’s evocation of freedom of speech - a young man in a windbreaker at a town meeting.

There’s also Joan Baez and her two sisters in a black-and-white photo poster urging resistance to the Vietnam War, with the caption “Girls Say Yes to Boys Who Say No.”

Also on the Web site portion of the show is an elaborate system of references and background on the posters. It tells, for example, how Rockwell’s posters initially were rejected for World War II propaganda in Washington and then won nationwide fame as covers of “The Saturday Evening Post.”

The site provides material on each artist, general social and political background on each poster and an explanation of the lithographic process by which many posters were produced.

The exhibit closes in Washington on Aug. 9. Admission is free.

Its next stop will be the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Fla. Aug. 29-Oct. 25; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, Calif. Jan. 23, 1999-March 21, 1999 and the Oakland Museum of California, June 12, 1999-Aug,15, 1999.

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Click on art The Web site is

This sidebar appeared with the story: Click on art The Web site is

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email