October 24, 2014

Marshall Plan and the Poster Contest

In the fall of 1950, the Intra-European Cooperation for a Better Standard of Living Poster Contest was held throughout Europe whereby artists were encouraged to submit posters that represented the theme of cooperation and economic recovery. Over 10,000 pieces were submitted from various countries. A panel of twelve graphic artists, each representing a different Marshall Plan country served as judges.

marshallplanpostergalleryFollowing run-off competitions locally, a selection of the best posters from each country was submitted to Paris to be judged by a distinguished intra-European jury composed of representatives of the graphics and fine arts professions, museum directors and curators, educators and information specialists from twelve of the thirteen participating countries.

What is interesting to note about these posters is the date on which they were commissioned. 1950. Three years after George C. Marshall gave his speech at Harvard University and two years after the European Recovery Program had become operational. ERP aid had been supplied to all the countries of western Europe. So why a poster contest now?

These posters were designed to promote the idea of Western Europe cohesion. Integration of the countries with the removal of trade barriers and inter-governmental institutions to aid in trade. Many of designs use multiple country flags to depict this new union. It is not surprising then that the winning design was “All Our Colors To The Mast”, which depicts one Europe ship with sails made of flags from each country.

All 25 posters can be viewed virtually from the listings in our online catalog.