Poster: Wake Up, America! Civilization Calls Every Man, Woman and Child!
42 x 28 1/8 in. (106.7 x 71.4 cm)
James Montgomery Flagg
(Pelham Manor, NY, 1877 - 1960, New York, NY)
Medium and Support:
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. E. Henry Keutmann
Location: Not currently on view
A personification is an artistic representation of an abstract quality or idea as a person. Traditional personifications of the United States, like Uncle Sam and Columbia/America, were common in war propaganda. Columbia is a conflicting presence in American World War I posters; sometimes she is pliant and beckoning, other times solid and fearsome. The preponderance of idealized females in WWI posters, in comparison to the few representations of "real" women, contradicted the reality of American women's growing participation in factories, farms, and hospitals.
In Wake Up, America!, America dozes while the fires of war rage in the distance. Her feminine, passive characteristics-soft arms, limp hand, and white, exposed neck-are an indictment in this poster. The artist, James Montgomery Flagg, admonishes Americans to wake up and prepare for war.
[Gallery label text, 2006]
For general references, see "War Poster Collections: Strong, Garrett, Taber, Fisk, Wright, Turnbull, McClenahan [and] Miscellaneous Collections," Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Library, 1919, cat. no. Taber BFA1224, p. 14; Maurice Rickards, “Posters of the First World War,” New York: Walker and Company, 1968, p. 22; George Theofiles, "American Posters of World War I," New York: Dafran House Publishers, Inc., 1973, fig. 7, p. 20; Walton Rawls, “Wake up, America!: World War I and the American poster," New York : Abbeville Press, 1988, repr. on frontispiece.
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This object was included in the following exhibitions:
This object has the following bibliographic references:
Rochester, NY: Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester
Memorial Art Gallery.
Rochester, NY: Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, 2000--.
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