japonisme: work your best!... (for me?)

31 August 2011

work your best!... (for me?)

conditions in the US during the twenties, the period during which all four of these poster series were published. also, it was the period which resembled conditions here today in many ways.

these four series, two of which are new to me, all of which seem to me to have very different views of human nature. the mather posters are boosters, 'you go get'm, guys!' the bill jones ones are frequently scolding. the a.h.brand ones, which are to be found nowhere but swann's aug 3 2011 catalogue, at least not that i could find; they are elegant and kind -- more reminders than instructions.

the buzza mottos are so charming. i've come across them now and then over the years, but they are only rarely photographed well enough to reproduce here. and their favorite subject is mothers. still, they are also boosters. see finsbry's flickr for more.

the thing is, why did they all appear at just that moment? this was the 'roaring twenties,' and a time in our history in which the separation between the rich and the poor was devastatingly vast, much like it is today.

power was held by the few, and rights were being stolen from their workers. the lopsidedness toppled the economy, again, much as it has today. workers with no money in their pockets can't consume, and without consumers a business will fail.

so why these posters at that moment, and what, if any- thing, can they teach us about today?
i just can't see myself clear to understand.
are they morale boosters handed out instead of power?
are they the greedy trying to squeeze just that penny more?
(if we're going to fund FEMA we have to cut social security!)

what do you think?

read more
heller posters
international posters

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The designs are often quite spare, the morality equally uncomplicated. I like the complete lack of irony in 'taking what does not belong to you'. It could be the motto of all colonialism, couldn't it? Very much of their times, anyway. Thanks!


31 August, 2011 14:01  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

oh charles--what an interesting comment! thanks!

31 August, 2011 15:05  
Blogger namastenancy said...

I find them quite beautiful but if you compare them with posters made during the Great Depression (the one in the 30's, not the one now), you'll see that these focus on the individual and being polite, following the rules, being an individual etc. Think about it - "One Iron in the Fire," the "I" as opposed to the we. The posters in the 30's emphasize collective action for political ends; it's less about being polite and more about changing the world for everybody,not just being Mr or Mrs Nice. And, naturally, that's a very simplistic overstatement but one which I think has some truth in it.

01 September, 2011 20:40  
Blogger Gerrie said...

Some of these are also and still very actual now adays. Some things maybe never change. So they are timeless, or is it the inabillty to change things for the good. Certainly the artists are stronger then your politicians. Speaking of social security and health insurance.

01 September, 2011 22:29  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

great insights, nancy & gerrie. really valuable additions to understanding all of this.

the more i look at them, mainly the mather & the jones ones, the angrier i get. "i protect my pay by not wasting material"??? no.... i protect *your* profit.

02 September, 2011 09:55  
Blogger Joyce said...

I should realize that if I find it interesting, there is a good chance you've already discovered it. Wouldn't you know I'm working on Bill Jones cards and Mather posters for a future entry on the Rockwell Center website. Glad I checked in, and thanks! Joyce

05 September, 2011 12:46  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

joyce! what a coincidence. please don't let me stop you--i'd love to read what you have to say!

06 September, 2011 08:18  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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