Unpinning History : Japanese Posters in the Age of Commercialism, Imperialism, and Modernism

Sekai wa heiwa, warera wa chokin, Teishinshō [The world is peace, we save money, Ministry of Communications]

Shown heroically building up the foundations of an industrial city, artist-designer Okano Sakae is calling the Japanese people to civic service. With a trowel in hand, dressed in workers’ clothes, the man in the poster represents the ideal citizen, which is defined by one’s active participation in the physical building up and maintenance of the city. The laborer stares at the dove while in the background industrial plants bustle smoke into the air. The contrasting scenes, when shown in Okano’s design, look natural like one has no effect on another, that the act of industry works harmoniously with the natural world. This notion is further developed in the corners of the frame which surrounds the image. In the top left and right corners of the frame are two flowers that represent purity. In combination with the dove, these flowers conjoin to create an image that equates industry with purity and progression. The poster contrasts images of bustling industry along with images of nature to show a clear connection and to argue for a balanced relationship between the two. Okano specified how Western audiences were drawn to images in which humans filled up the frame. (Corey Gordon)

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