The Mather Work Incentive Posters Exhibition of American Posters

. August 13, 2008 . 0 Comments

International Poster Gallery is pleased to announce Made in America: The Mather Work Incentive Posters, an exhibition of American posters from the Roaring Twenties on display September 15 through October 31, 2008. Printed in Chicago between 1923 and 1929, The Mather Work Incentive Posters were designed to increase productivity and reinforce the morals and the morale of the American workforce during a time of economic expansion.

Armed with bold headlines and striking visual metaphors, the posters were distributed to factories and companies across America, but are today quite rare and highly prized. They represent a significant chapter in both American graphic design and in our social and economic history. The show is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday noon-6pm. The Gallery is located at 205 Newbury Street in Boston. Call (617) 375-0076 or visit for information.

These posters are a unique expression of the idealism and optimism of the rising nation, while they also can be seen as workplace propaganda at its most basic level. Reflecting classic virtues of loyalty, integrity, cooperation and pride, these posters are rooted in American values and work ethic. As President Calvin Coolidge noted in 1925, “The chief business of the American people is business.”

Outstanding American artists such as Willard Frederick Elmes and Hal Depuy, represented in the exhibition, boldly employed familiar images such as racing trains, running football players, and mischievous clowns alongside headlines that were striking in their directness and simplicity.

For example, a poster by Willard Frederick Elmes, The Perfect Finish (1929) depicts a sailing crew hard at work during a boat race. The subtitle, a classic example from Mather’s lexicon warns, “No job’s done till it’s ALL done.” The poster succinctly communicates the importance of teamwork, healthy competition and efficiency on the job.

Also on display is a poster by Hal Depuy featuring bold imagery from America’s favorite pastime, baseball. Over the Plate! depicts a pitcher in mid-throw and states, “Winners never have to say they’re good – their work proves it. RESULTS TALK.” The baseball metaphor plays directly to the American worker, inspiring hard work and discouraging time wasting and conceit.

“Our exhibition of Mather’s posters is timely as we face our own uncertain political climate,” comments gallery owner Jim Lapides. “These pieces reflect on a simpler era, but their message of hard work and efficiency are timeless.”

Category: Fine Art News

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