“City of Lights, City of Fonts” is a blog and visual diary created by ArtSlant’s Georgia Fee Artist-in-Residence, Ali Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald will explore France’s evolving visual relationship to propaganda, looking deeply at aesthetics of nationalism and politicized otherness. With sketches, writing, and graphic vignettes, she will document fonts, signage, and France’s history of drawing as activism.
During the years of German occupation (1940–1944), the image of Joan of Arc was used both by the collaborationist Vichy government and Charles de Gaulle’s résistance.
Vichy leader Phillipe Pétain liked her better than the other, older symbol of the republic, Marianne, because:
1. She wasn’t topless
2. She heard voices and was really, really into god
3. She dressed like a man
4. She was an Anglophobe
He painted her as the devout symbol of the Vichy’s fascist, religious new governance:
But this portrayal was contradictory to the Vichy government’s belief in “traditional roles” for women. Vichy textbooks recounted her deeds but discouraged girls from following in Joan’s footsteps.
On the resistance side, Charles de Gaulle used her as an image of an evolving French nationalism. She was a symbol of anti-clerical courage and a quasi-feminist icon.
After World War II, images of Joan of Arc disappeared from public life. She was too closely aligned with the Vichy government, antisemitism and the far-right.
Charles De Gaulle’s government wanted to rebuild France and forget the complicity of their countrymen.
But Joan’s image wasn’t only used in France. America, Britain, and Germany all made propaganda posters featuring Joan during both World Wars. The most famous is probably this American poster from 1918.
More on wartime posters next time!
Tags: City of Fonts Ali Fitzgerald Joan of Arc propaganda, drawing