Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C , Case 3G, Shelf DR2

Avenge December 7

Poster
1942 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

The clenched fist is a recurring motif in poster art, symbolising irrepressible strength and determination. Here it dominates the poster, driving home the simple but dramatic message of outrage at the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. This brought America into the war and thereafter served as an emotive rallying cry.

Object details

Categories
Object type
TitleAvenge December 7 (assigned by artist)
Materials and techniques
Colour lithography
Brief description
Second World War poster by Bernard Perlin referring to the attack on Pearl Harbor, issued by the Office of War Information. USA, 1942.
Physical description
This dramatic poster is dominated by the image of a clenched fist. A sailor in a tattered uniform pushes his fist forward, in a posture both determined and aggressive. The composition is primarily black which sets the red text 'Avenge December 7' into stark contrast. The lower right corner shows the outline of an explosion - the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Dimensions
  • Height: 102.1cm
  • Width: 71.2cm
Marks and inscriptions
Avenge/ December 7 (printed in red on the diagonal across the poster)
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
Object history
The bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941 was described as ‘a date that will live in infamy’ by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and led to the USA entering the war officially the next day. The surprise attack on the Hawaiian naval base killed and wounded around 3500 American soldiers.
Bernard Perlin was part of a short-lived Graphics Department for the War Office where many enlistment posters such as this were rapidly designed in response to the atrocity, with the taglines veering between ‘avenge’ and ‘remember’. He was also a war artist in the field, travelling internationally as a correspondent for Life and Fortune magazines.
After the war he made a name for himself as a magic realist painter and was an enduring figure in New York gay subculture in the coterie of George Platt Lynes, Truman Capote, Paul Cadmus, and Leonard Bernstein among others.
Subjects depicted
Place depicted
Summary
The clenched fist is a recurring motif in poster art, symbolising irrepressible strength and determination. Here it dominates the poster, driving home the simple but dramatic message of outrage at the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. This brought America into the war and thereafter served as an emotive rallying cry.
Other number
LS.504 - Leslie Schreyer Loan Number
Collection
Accession number
E.70-2004

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Record createdJune 24, 2004
Record URL
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