Friday, November 2, 2012

"Bits of Careless Talk," by Stevan Dohanos- 1944

In the museum's World War II gallery is this poster discouraging Americans from talking about ship movements.  This poster was part of the U.S. government's overall campaign to prevent critical information from reaching enemy spies thought to be operating in the United States. Stevan Dohanos, a prolific producer of "Loose Lips Sink Ships"-type posters, created this one.  Other well-known Dohanos works in this category are Loose Talk Can Cost Lives and Award For Careless Talk.

Dohanos is considered by art critics to be one of America's great illustrators.  He painted for most of his life.  His work can be found on many covers of the Saturday Evening Post, U.S. Postal Service stamps, and magazine advertisements. 

Poster work of this type was a slight deviation from Dohanos' style as a "realist" painter.  His work for the Saturday Evening Post, for example, typically depicted ordinary Americans going about their lives, with no attempt to embellish or glorify them (unlike his contemporary S.E. Post artist Norman Rockwell, for example).   These works allow the viewer to take his or her time digesting all the activity occurring in the work.  

Dohanos' World War II posters, however, required the artist to be more abstract and symbolic.  He needed to deliver a hard-hitting, direct message to the viewer.  Award and Bits of Careless Talk both use the symbolism of a Nazi hand wearing a swastika ring.  

In 1938, Dohanos produced a work entitled Keep the Peace for the General Cable Corporation that shows he could effectively mix realism with abstract art.  The result is a stunning and effective illustration.

No comments: