Parks and Recreation

Posted on: November 30, 2017

Winter Exhibit Explores Political Posters at Temple’s Railroad and Heritage Museum

The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is proud to host a new winter exhibit entitled, Sign of the Times: The Great American Political Poster 1844–2012. Covering the history of this often unnoticed art form, Sign of the Times features some of the most interesting and rarest posters from the last 170 years. On display December 15, 2017 to January 19, 2018, the exhibit explores many of the styles, design trends, and printing technology used in political posters.

The political campaign poster had its humble beginnings in the 1840s when the lithographic printing process was developed to satisfy a growing demand for printed material. Hand-colored portraits of presidential and vice-presidential candidates were first printed for the 1844 race between Whig Party candidate Henry Clay and the eventual winner, James K. Polk of the Democratic Party. Technological innovation in the lithographic process in the 1880s ushered in the golden age of lithography, which produced some of the most intricate and colorful posters in the exhibition.

World War II saw a huge outpouring of posters offered by the Roosevelt administration and included several key Democratic Party campaign posters designed by famous artists like Ben Shahn and James Montgomery Flagg. A new design element became popular during the period, known as the “floating head”, and several such posters for candidates Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Goldwater are included in the exhibition.

The left-wing counterculture revolution of the 1960s was awash in civil rights, psychedelia, and anti-war posters that culminated in the creation of some of the finest campaign posters. The offset printed poster was the more frequent, but many famous artists such as Alexander Calder and Andy Warhol screen-printed limited editions that helped fund campaigns. Hundreds of posters were created by well-known artists, illustrators, and often by inspired first time poster makers.

After the graphically exciting 1972 presidential campaign, future contests produced only a few outstanding posters in each election cycle. Through time, the American political poster has been ignored as an art form despite its easy ability to convey political messages to voters quickly and effectively.

Sign of the Times has made every effort to bring eye-popping political graphics to the forefront and show the great American political poster as art. This exhibit was curated by Hal Wert, Ph.D., collector and professor of history at Kansas City Art Institute, and organized by Exhibits USA/Mid-America Arts Alliance.

Sign of the Times: The Great American Political Poster 1844–2012 can be viewed with regular admission to the museum, Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and is part of the regular schedule of changing exhibits at the museum. The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is located at 315 W. Avenue B in downtown Temple. For more information about the exhibit or the museum, please visit www.templerrhm.org or call 254-298-5194.


About ExhibitsUSA
This exhibition is toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. ExhibitsUSA sends more than 25 exhibitions on tour to over 100 small- and mid-sized communities every year. These exhibitions create access to an array of arts and humanities experiences, nurture the understanding of diverse cultures and art forms, and encourage the expanding depth and breadth of cultural life in local communities. For more about ExhibitsUSA, email MoreArt@maaa.org or visit www.eusa.org.

About Mid-America Arts Alliance
Mid-America Arts Alliance (M-AAA) strengthens and supports artists, cultural organizations, and communities throughout our region and beyond. We achieve this primarily through our national traveling exhibition programs, innovative leadership development, and strategic grant making. We are especially committed to enriching the cultural life of historically underserved communities by providing high quality, meaningful, and accessible arts and culture programs and services. Each year M-AAA’s programs, on average, reach one million people. We believe in more art for more people. Additional information about M-AAA is available at www.maaa.org.  

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