Propaganda posters from the Schreyer collection at the V&A

Charting the growth of a 20th century medium of art and communication

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This collection of propaganda posters (until 23 March) was built up by the Schreyer family from the 1960s onwards. When a student in 60s America, Leslie Schreyer became interested in politics and its means of communication, and, with the help of his first and second wives and daughter, went on to collect some 3,000 posters from the 20th century. These have been donated to the V&A. A third are propaganda posters, the rest running the gamut from early circus posters to 60s psychedelia. Even though the poster was a relatively new medium at the start of the century, it was pressed into active service at a tender age. Different military and propaganda campaigns reflect contemporary art movements: there are Constructivist posters for Russian agriculture and industry; airbrushed Chinese communist frolics; and the more DIY ethos of anti-Vietnam posters. Of course, there are many posters from the 1930s and 1940s, when propaganda went into overdrive. Abram Games, who designed many beautiful posters, brought his strong design sensibility to bear on propaganda too, as seen in his “Grow your own food”,1942 (above).

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