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Imagining IllnessPublic Health and Visual Culture$
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David Serlin

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816648221

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816648221.001.0001

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“Some One Sole Unique Advertisement”

“Some One Sole Unique Advertisement”

Public Health Posters in the Twentieth Century

Chapter:
(p.126) 7. “Some One Sole Unique Advertisement”
Source:
Imagining Illness
Author(s):

William H. Helfand

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816648221.003.0007

This chapter focuses on the development of the public health poster as a genre, from its late-nineteenth-century art-historical European origins to its most forward-thinking iterations during the AIDS pandemic of the 1980s. It examines the aesthetic qualities imparted to early public health posters, which incorporated the work of professionally trained fine art painters, illustrators, and engravers, and how changing understandings of public health inspired these artists to employ new aesthetic criteria and graphic techniques in their work. The resulting trajectory, it argues, provides traditional art historians with a subset of visual images that they have often neglected to incorporate into canonical studies of nineteenth- and twentieth-century art. The chapter illustrates how posters were designed as part of numerous propaganda campaigns to sensitize men and women to the dangers posed by epidemics, endemic diseases, and other chronic public health problems.

Keywords:   public health, posters, AIDS, artists, visual images, art, propaganda, epidemics, endemic diseases

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