Publication Date

Summer 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art and Art History


Anthony Raynsford


1960s, Activism, Museums, Political Art, Posters, Printmaking

Subject Areas

Art history; Museum studies


Fueled by the radical political thinking of the 1960s and beyond, people in the United States produced artistic responses in the form of political prints and posters for both documenting and actively galvanizing the popular movements of this era. This study analyzes the display of these prints and posters within an art-viewing context. It argues that, with characteristics of both objects of politics and objects of art, these works possess dynamic meaning that can be impacted by the institutional narratives of the locations in which they reside. Looking at three examples of political print exhibitions organized individually by the Museum of Modern Art, the Oakland Museum of California, and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, this study compares how different institutions affect the viewer’s comprehension of the meaning of these works. With consideration for the democratic intentions of this kind of art, this study ultimately stresses the importance of communicating both the political and artistic qualities of political prints in order for viewers in the present to truly understand the legacy of the real people and movements that they represent.