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Loose talk can cost lives

  • Object:

    Poster

  • Place of origin:

    United States (made)

  • Date:

    1942 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Holmgren, R. John, born 1897 - died 1963 (designer)
    British and American Ambulance Corps. (issued by)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Colour lithograph

  • Credit Line:

    Gift of the American Friends of the V&A; Gift to the American Friends by Leslie, Judith and Gabri Schreyer and Alice Schreyer Batko

  • Museum number:

    E.594-2004

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case Y, shelf 62, box E

This American poster uses humour to be inclusive, playing on the idea of the incongruity of Hitler turning up in disguise (here in an ill-fitting suit) in a mundane setting, listening in to private conversations. The serviceman is trying to impress his girl by passing on information that may seem innocent, but Hitler's newspaper reminds the viewer that in war any news might prove fatal if it falls into the hands of the enemy.

Physical description

'Loose Talk Can Cost Lives', World War II poster warning against careless talk, depicting of a soldier and girl on park bench. The soldier, dressed in a brown army uniform, with peaked cap, has his arm around a blonde woman, as he talks and smiles at her. The woman, dressed in a red skirt and hat, blue blouse, and yellow jacket, appears to look at him in awe. Her gaze is difficult to decipher, and she may be looking towards a third person on the other side of the man, also seated on the bench; a caricature of Hitler. He is wearing an ill-fitting green suit, and a bowler hat, and he holds up a newspaper. His left ear is greatly enlarged, indicating that he is eavesdropping on the young man. The scene is set onto a yellow background.

Below the image, printed in red on a black 'banner' is the slogan, 'Loose Talk Can Cost Lives'.

Place of Origin

United States (made)

Date

1942 (made)

Artist/maker

Holmgren, R. John, born 1897 - died 1963 (designer)
British and American Ambulance Corps. (issued by)

Materials and Techniques

Colour lithograph

Marks and inscriptions

'LOOSE TALK / CAN COST LIVES'
Below the image, printed in red against a black tape or banner

'HOLM / GREN / S'
Under the bench in the image, in red ink

'© 1942'
Date, in lower left corner

'DISTRIBUTED IN THE INTEREST OF NATIONAL DEFENCE, AND AS A MEANS OF OBTAINING FUNDS FOR AMBULANCES WHEREVER NEEDED, BRITISH AND AMERICAN AMBULANCE CORPS, INC., 420 LEXINGTON AVENUE, NEW YORK CITY'
distribution details, running along the lower edge of the poster, in white border, printed in black

'ART'
Symbol made of an eagle's head, forming the letter 'a', with the letters 'ART' below, within a squared oval

'LITHO IN U.S.A.'
Along edge in lower left corner, printed in black

Dimensions

Height: 50.7 cm, Width: 35.5 cm

Descriptive line

'Loose Talk Can Cost Lives', World War II poster warning against careless talk, depicting a couple overheard by Hitler, by R. John Holmgren, issued by British and American Ambulance Corps., 1942

Materials

Paper; Ink

Techniques

Lithography

Subjects depicted

War; Espionage; Security; Spies; Benches; Women; Cosmetics; Femininity; Soldiers; Propaganda; Uniforms; Men

Categories

Prints; Propaganda; Posters

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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