Anti-War & Anti-Vietnam Vintage Poster
In the history of the United States, no foreign war was more politically and morally polarizing in America than the War in Vietnam, which, by the time of America’s withdrawal from Southeast Asia in 1975, had cost the lives of over 1.3 million servicemen on both sides of the conflict (as well as hundreds of thousands wounded, many grievously), and the deaths of over 2,000,000 Vietnamese civilians. In addition to large-scale demonstrations against the war, the arts played a vital role in the peace movement in America, with various artistic forms such as sculptures, poetry, installations, and performance art used to protest U.S. military involvement. In order to visually communicate their ideas to a broad audience, anti-war activists chose the historically significant “democratic medium” of posters, which had been the primary method of low-cost mass communication in America since before the Revolutionary War (when the colonists protested Britain’s Stamp Act), and had been employed by artists in the interests of peace throughout the 20th century, including Pablo Picasso’s profound anti-war meditation “Guernica” in 1937.
Using an array of radiant hues reflecting the Pop-Art stylings of the 1960s, the above-featured poster depicts a Vietnam War-era U.S. Army tank rumbling toward its destination, which within its unique imagery can be speculated to be anywhere in the world, a symbolic warning of the insidious spread of an inhumane war to the most beautiful and peaceful spots on earth, including even the subtropical paradise of Bermuda. Exploring the theme that what was once considered unfathomable could now become reality, posters such as this one were used to great effect in the anti-Vietnam War protest movement, wherein bold, transgressive artistry helped to mobilize people by the millions to put an end to the ceaseless bloodshed and atrocities. Additionally, the poster’s approximate creation date of 1970 puts it squarely within the time period of events which touched off some of the most bitter and tragic protests of the entire conflict, resulting in the shooting deaths of students at the hands of National Guardsmen and state policemen during demonstrations at Kent State University in Ohio and Jackson State College in Mississippi.
With its luminous colors, veiled faces, and thought-provoking text, this poster is highly unusual even for the innovative period in which it was created, and can serve either as a special addition to an already extant collection, or as a stand-alone example of the power of art to raise human consciousness in ways that are as deeply relevant today as they were almost 50 years ago.
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