Sunday, December 3, 2017

Flagg's Poster "Tell That to the Marines"

Flagg's Poster "Tell That to the Marines"
// Gurney Journey

James Montgomery Flagg is best known for his poster of Uncle Sam pointing and saying "I want YOU for the U.S. Army."

He painted many other recruitment posters for World War I, some of which were staged as publicity stunts.

He set up his oversize canvas in New York City and climbed up a ladder as a model stood on a box.


The steps of the New York Public Library became the main location for these events. On some occasions, Flagg would offer to draw a portrait on the spot of anyone who pledged to buy a $1,000 Liberty Bond.

A platoon of Marines with fixed bayonets marched around him. The poster proved so popular that Al Jolson wrote a song based on the line "Tell That to the Marines."

This story is one small part of the new issue of Illustration Magazine, which is entirely devoted to James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960). The article is 72 pages long and amply illustrated, with a biography by Dan Zimmer that captures the complexities of the irascible showman-artist.
Illustration Magazine's special issue on Flagg.
Previous posts: 
James Montgomery Flagg is the standard monograph.
Roses and buckshot is his autobiography.


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