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2D Art Projects

Propaganda / Meme Poster

Andy Warhol made artworks about Campbell's soup cans, Brillo boxes and Marilyn Monroe. Roy Liechtenstein made paintings that resemble the panels of a comic book. Such imagery originates in popular culture and is a defining feature of "Pop Art".

Some contemporary artists still rely on subjects derived from popular culture, but the artworks that they create are often imbued with an extra layer of associations (meaning) that was mostly absent in Pop Art of the 1960's. Artists like Andy and Roy would rarely concern themselves with "issues" because the watch words of Pop Art were "fame", "glamour" and "materialism": inherently superficial concerns by any definition.

Warhol's Marilyn Monroe Portrait Lichtenstein's Comic Book Paintings

In our Post Modern world of pastiche and appropriation, many artists look to the distant past to find meaning–filled images from popular culture. So–called "retro" images can be used to give authority and gravitas to even the most banal of subjects. For instance, vintage propaganda posters are loaded with explicit messages – join the army, protect capitalism, fight capitalism, long live the proletariat – that originate within the historic contexts of WWI, WWII, Maoism and Marxism.

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Many of the images from those eras contain plenty of ideological weight because of history and world events. When an artist grafts a current issue on to vintage imagery, a hybrid idea arises which can bestow any mundane subject, red M&M's for example, with a new and surprising significance.

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Today, the Interment has given most of us instant access to millions of images that are so current that we now use the term "trending" to describe them. Some of these images become memes which go on to express a common sentiment in society. When a police officer pepper sprayed a group of passive protesters at U.C. Davis (click here for the story), thousands of individuals expressed their disapproval by appropriating and manipulating the iconic image of "casually pepper spray everything cop" and then uploaded their reworked images to blogs and web sites around the world (e.g., http://www.knowyourmeme.com). The results were very powerful, personal statements that were also filled with layers of nuance, pathos and humour.

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PROCEDURE: You have two options for this assignment. Please choose one.

1. Create a poster using a meme that is no older than six months. Chooses a meme that might have broad appeal. Your work must incorporate a famous work of art (as was done by combining "casually pepper spray everything cop" with DaVinci's "Last Supper", Serault's "La Grande Jette", Michaelangelo's "Birth of Adam", Picasso's "Guernica" and lots of others).

or...

2. Use the "Links to Vintage Propaganda Posters" below (or a web site that you've located on your own) to find a historic image for your project. Choose something that appeals to you on several levels: visually, intellectually, emotionally. Download the largest version of that image that is available. Use Photoshop or Illustrator to alter the image. Change some part of the image and text to make it current and topical.

Print your poster in the computer lab on large sized, high quality photo paper (Anthony Reimer will help you with this part). I've booked the Computer Lab for you to use.

Examples of Student Works

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Links to Vintage Propaganda Posters

Links to Some More Appropriated Posters

TECHNICAL: Your poster must be clean (free of artifacts), sharp and convincing. In other words, try to make it look as professional as you can.

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© 2016, Terry Reynoldson