Thursday, March 27, 2014

Prints As Propaganda

Dress made of Arnold Lever's Victory Fabric, 1945,
picturing the flags of the Allies in World War II.

London Walls print By Arnold Lever for a scarf for Jacqmar, which
did a series of English patriotic/propaganda scarves
during World War II.

Uncut kimono fabric,
Japan, early 1940s

Propaganda seems a harsh word. We feel most comfortable using it to describe ideas we don't care for rather than values we hold dear. 

Another Lever/Jacqmar collaboration

Perspective rests on a sliding scale between Patriotic and Propaganda and each viewer has to decide where to situate herself as she views the imagery.

These images of Japanese kimono from World War II
are from
Wearing Propaganda: Textiles on the Home Front in 
Japan, Britain, and the United States, 1931-1945

Printed yardage V For Victory from the collection
of the Victoria and Albert Museum

At least two V for Victory American prints have been documented.

Feedsack print from the Rick Rack Rag
Both use Morse code for V

Percy Kent's 1942 feedsack print
Cloth of the United Nations must have been a good seller,
based on the number of surviving examples.

To the die-hard modernist, however, any use of art for the sake of the state was an unwelcome return to the past.

Read more about prints as propaganda in Jacqueline Atkins's catalog Wearing Propaganda: Textiles on the Home Front in Japan, Britain, and the United States, 1931-1945

See pictures from the exhibit:

See also Beauty as Duty (2011)  by Alexandra Huff and Frederic Sharf, catalog to an exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts:

Read more about the Jacqmar scarves:


  1. Once again you feature a very interesting and informative article. The war related fabric is new to me.

  2. Amazing. I've already ordered one book based on the last blog post. Love the Victory, Victory scarf with the flower flags. The kimono fabric is fabulous too.