Art joins the fight

WITH THE Olympics in full swing and the presidential election on the horizon, patriotic themes are in the air, and the Norton Simon Museum hopes to tap into that dialogue by exploring the connection between modern politics and visual arts in its exhibition “The Art of War.”

On display will be 33 rarely seen posters commissioned by the U.S. government during World Wars I and II -- chosen from a collection of 525 pieces donated in 1952 by Helen and Edith Robinson.

Illustrations were created by such artists as Howard Chandler Christy, J.C. Leyendecker and James Montgomery Flagg, who was responsible for the classic poster of a finger-pointing Uncle Sam exclaiming, “I Want You ... for U.S. Army.”

Norman Rockwell’s famous 1942 painting of an American family gathered around the dining table awaiting its turkey dinner was initially turned down by officials and was eventually published by the Saturday Evening Post along with three other compositions he created for the wartime effort. Upon seeing the images in print, government officials changed their minds and had Rockwell add the line “Ours ... to fight for ... Freedom from Want” with more than 2 million posters eventually printed.


Many of these artists honed their skills in magazines and melded their traditional training with the contemporary influences of photography, cinema and design.

The exhibit runs Sept. 5 through Jan. 26.

-- Liesl Bradner