Traditionally, society tries to separate political and cultural issues into different categories; art serves as a means of combining political messages into a cultural forum. Political leaders and power holders understand the significance of using art to present certain messages to the mass public. Art incorporating strong political and social messages serves the propagandists purpose of facilitating the spread of information and opinion. Art often reinforces the underlying message and exemplifies the opinion of the propagandist.
A prominent question of aesthetic research revolves around the problem of external influences on artistic style and technique. How much influence does societal and political opinion have on artist's choice of subject matter and style? One of the most adamant critics of political art, Clement Greenberg, believed true art "should attend to purely artistic concerns; to make, in effect, abstract art which would be immune to political exploitation." This theory of an artistic imagination totally uncompromised by ideological and political commitments seems farfetched in contemporary art styles. Often produced to provoke emotional reactions and instigate debate, modern art stretches the limits of displaying the artistic message. Different individuals react uniquely to various art forms, no two people will find the exact same message in a painting, sculpture or drawing. After all, a picture is worth a thousand (different) words.
Posters American Style--maintained
by the National Museum of American Art, this site provides a history of
the poster and its impact on American culture. The site has posters created
for a variety of reasons from entertainment to civil rights and war.
World War II Posters--the Power of Persuasion exhibit of war posters from the National Archives and Records Administration.
Propaganda Poster Page-- examples of war posters from WWI and WWII
German Propaganda Archive--a collection from Randall Bytwerk at Calvin College with examples of essays, speeches, and various proaganda materials from Germany.
Soviet Posters--the International Institute of Social History gives a brief history of Soviet posters and provides some examples.
Communist Posters--collection of different communist posters.
Style--Noam Chomsky's view on propaganda in the USA.
American Memory--a digital library from the Library of Congress where you can check out papers, maps and photos that depict the history of the nation.