Monday, December 1, 2008

Art Basel VIP Reception with Elliott Earls

Elliott Earls Performing at The Wolfsonian Museum.
Accompanied by Benjamin Teague.

VIP Reception:
Friday December 5th. 8 to 9PM.

Guest of the Museum:
Friday December 5th. 9 to 11PM.

Design Marathon Performance:
Saturday December 6th 5:30PM


Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Francesco Vezzoli (Italian, b. 1971)
Rosalynn Carter, 2007
Inkjet print and watercolor on canvas with metallic embroidery
Courtesy Galleria Franco Noero, Torino


How are we manipulated by strategies of political communication? How do issues such as fame and the power of the media play into this dynamic, and what is the role of democracy? Inspired by the 2008 U.S. Presidential elections, artist Francesco Vezzoli (Italian, b. 1971) explores these issues and how they’re expressed through contemporary visual language in his installation Democrazy, on view at The Wolfsonian–FIU October 24-December 7, 2008 and sponsored by Gallery Ivon Lambert, Paris. The presentation at The Wolfsonian is in connection with the current exhibit, Thoughts on Democracy, part of the Celebrating America year of exhibits.

Democrazy is based on a fictional election campaign with two hypothetical candidates. A video project, the installation consists of two election ads played concurrently, featuring the theoretical candidates, who have different political visions. The candidates are played by media superstars, both poised to become the quintessential twenty-first century leader: Hollywood actress Sharon Stone and French philosopher and author Bernard-Henri Lévy.

The ads were produced in collaboration with teams of political experts, one led by Mark McKinnon, George W. Bush’s media advisor in 2004, and the other by Jim Mulhall, part of Bill Clinton’s creative team in 1996.

The ads, with their on-point, extremely precise, and seductive messages, highlight the candidates’ popularity, confidence, and their seductive capacity to use the media to bolster their images.

“Democrazy is a provocative look at the powerful roles of media, visual language, and celebrity culture, and as such is very much in keeping with the themes that The Wolfsonian’s collection addresses,” notes Cathy Leff, The Wolfsonian’s director. “What Franceso Vezzoli has done in this installation is to comment on and reflect back to us a view of our current election and the media frenzy that it’s generating. The fact that this noted artist has collaborated with former presidential advisors makes this fictional representation all the more intriguing.”

Democrazy was first presented in June 2007 during the opening of the Italian Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale. It follows the artist’s earlier parody of contemporary Hollywood, Trailer for a remake of Gore Vidal’s Caligula, presented at the 51st Venice Biennale and at the 2006 Whitney Biennial.

About the Artist
Francesco Vezzoli’s work includes video installations, petit-point embroidery, and photography, mixing heterogeneous languages and genres to bring together pop icons, auteur cinema, art history, social, and personal issues. He has had solo shows in museums and institutions worldwide including Fondazione Prada, Milan; Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; and Tate Modern, London. His video projects and needleworks have also been presented at several biennials including the 2006 Whitney Biennial, the 49th, 51st, and 52nd Venice Biennials, and the 26th Sao Paulo Biennial; and in group shows at venues including Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; The Studio Museum in Harlem; Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris; and Migros Museum, Zurich.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Wolfsonian-FIU Presents Thoughts on Democracy: Managing Perceptions through Images and Words

Propaganda has always been with us, but the recent polarization of the electoral landscape and growing sophistication of technology and media marketing savvy, illustrate the ways politics are often swayed by manipulation, doublespeak, and falsehoods. It's time to take a close look at how propaganda distorts perceptions and how it can move a nation to positive action.

Join us for an afternoon of thought-provoking dialogue with distinguished journalists, visual and graphic artists, political thinkers, and writers as they explore the 2008 Presidential campaign just ten days before the election.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25, 1:00-5:00 pm
The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse


(double click on the image for detailed information)


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


What are your thoughts on democracy?

The Wolfsonian–FIU, an art and design museum located in Miami, Florida, challenges middle and high school students throughout the nation to visually address an essential question confronting all U.S. citizens in these times.

Challenge guidelines:

  • Two entries accepted per school (You decide how to democratically select them.)
  • Accompanied by completed entry form (No entries accepted without one.)
  • Artwork must be two-dimensional and a maximum of 8.5 x11 inches
  • Submit entry in one of the following formats:
    • Email digital scan of original artwork (must be 300 DPI, high resolution PDF or Microsoft Word format) to
    • Print and mail entries to Thoughts on Democracy Student Poster Challengec/o The Wolfsonian Ed Dept., 1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139
  • All entries must be received by November 17, 2008
  • Prizes will be awarded and top entries posted online
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __



To participate in the poster challenge, please enclose this form with up to two entries:

City: _____________ State:_______

Teacher’s Name: _________________________________

Email: __________________________________________ Phone:__________________

#1 Student’s Name: ____________________ ____________
Grade: ____

#2 Student’s Name: ____________________ ____________
Grade: ____


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thoughts on Democracy Arrives at Miami International Airport

Add some art and gather your thoughts on democracy during your next vacation! Posters from the exhibition Thoughts on Democracy are now on display at Miami International Airport, on the second level at the Concourse D Federal Inspection Services area past the security checkpoint. The exhibit is a component of the broader mia Galleries Exhibition Program, and will be open for the next six months to ticketed passengers or by special request.

Read the full press release...


(Miami-Dade County, Florida) – The Division of Fine Arts and Cultural Affairs at Miami International Airport announces Thoughts on Democracy, an innovative initiative on display at the airport for the next six months that brings together 60 renowned contemporary artists and designers to present original works inspired by Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” posters. Thoughts on Democracy is part of Celebrating America, a series of four exhibitions at The Wolfsonian-Florida International University through 2009 that examine and celebrate the social, political and personal American experience from the 1930s to the present.

“We invited artists and designers to participate in a ‘graphic remix’ that would reinterpret Rockwell’s posters in today’s visual language,” said Wolfsonian art director Tim Hossler, who conceived the project and is co-curating the show with Steven Heller, co-chair of the MFA Design Department at the School of Visual Arts. “We are thrilled with the response and are eager to see how the participants’ exploration of democracy stimulates public conversation on the subject.”

Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” paintings were first published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943 and were later issued by the government as posters for a U.S. war bond drive. The paintings illustrated the ideals expressed in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s impassioned “Four Freedoms” speech to Congress in 1941, in which he envisioned a “world founded upon four essential human freedoms” - Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.

“We are always looking for new, provocative ways to foster dialogue around our collection in relation to contemporary issues, particularly when we are able to involve contemporary artists and graphic designers,” said The Wolfsonian’s director, Cathy Leff. “Thoughts on Democracy will be a fascinating and timely reflection of how Roosevelt’s universal ideals, articulated in 1941, are interpreted and expressed in 2008.” She explained that The Wolfsonian’s impetus for the project was a recent gift of the “Four Freedoms” posters to the museum by Leonard A. Lauder.

All artists and designers included in the exhibition have generously donated their time and creativity. Thoughts on Democracy is supported by a generous grant from the Funding Arts Network (FAN), in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Thoughts on Democracy is on display on the second level at the Concourse D Federal Inspection Services area past the security checkpoint and is open to ticketed passengers or by special request. The exhibition is a component of the broader mia Galleries Exhibition Program, created for the purpose of humanizing the airport environment with cultural and educational experiences. Images of the exhibition are available upon request.

For more information, contact the Miami-Dade Aviation Department’s Division of Fine Arts and Cultural Affairs at 305-876-0749 or the Office of Communications at 305-876-7017.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dynamo Museum Spotlight: kate spade buttons

Wear Thoughts on Democracy on your sleeve...or backpack...or baseball hat...or any where you can pin a button!

Selecting from their Thoughts on Democracy poster, the kate spade, new york team has created a collection of fun, quirky, and patriotic buttons. Choose one or many of the buttons (which come in a variety of sizes, colors, and statements) to project your own individual thoughts on democracy.

The kate spade, new york buttons are available for $1.50 each at The Wolfsonian's Dynamo Shop and Cafe. The Dynamo Shop and Café is located at 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL. If you have any questions or would like to purchase something from the shop, contact the museum shop manager at or 305.535.2680.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Dynamo Museum Shop Spotlight: Iron Fists by Steven Heller

Iron Fists, the new book by Thoughts on Democracy co-curator Steve Heller, was just published yesterday, but has already received attention for its bold comparison the political propaganda of some of the world's "worst" dictators - Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin, and Mao Tse-Tung - and modern corporate branding. Although focused on much darker subject matter, Iron Fists relates to the Thoughts on Democracy project in its examination of how art and design has the power to impact politics.

Iron Fists is available for purchase at The Wolfsonian's Dynamo Shop and Cafe. The Dynamo Shop and Café is located at 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL. If you have any questions or would like to purchase something from the shop, contact the museum shop manager at or 305.535.2680.

To read Christopher Benfey's review of Iron Fists, visit, or keep reading...

Iron Fists: The insidious side of brand loyalty

by Christopher Benfey

Iron Fists
Branding the 20th Century Totalitarian State By Steven Heller Illustrated. 223 pages. Phaidon Press.

How did a practice as vile as branding become so valued, indeed, the very mark of value? Officials in the past have branded slaves and criminals - remember Milady's fleur-de-lis in "The Three Musketeers"? Samuel Maverick didn't brand his cattle, but dictionaries are vague about whether he was the first maverick or his cows were.

Today, cities and colleges have joined toothpastes and soft drinks in the battle for "brand loyalty." Steven Heller's "Iron Fists" makes a sophisticated and visually arresting comparison between modern corporate-branding strategies - slogans, mascots, jingles and the rest - and those adopted by "four of the most destructive 20th-century totalitarian regimes": Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, and Mao's China. As he pursues his four "case studies," Heller, by means of unsettling images and shrewd analysis, amply restores the vileness to branding.

"Iron Fists" has the dimensions and dazzling illustrations of a coffee-table book, but its subject will fit uneasily among Monet's waterlilies or Fabergé's eggs. Heller, who was a senior art director at The New York Times for many years and now writes the Visuals column for the Book Review, brings a graphic designer's perspective to these disturbing proceedings. He is aware that comparing supposedly "benign" corporate brands with government-disseminated propaganda may seem a stretch: "A popular brand of frozen food or laundry detergent is not forced down the consumer's throat with an iron fist." Still, as he notes, "the design and marketing methods used to inculcate doctrine and guarantee consumption are fundamentally similar." His aim is not to diminish the insidiousness of the regimes under scrutiny, but rather to reveal why they were so effective.

Three of Heller's dictators considered themselves artists and eagerly participated in marketing their brands. Mao fancied himself a poet and master calligrapher; Mussolini wrote a pulp novel and portrayed himself as a hypermasculine sex symbol. Hitler was an aspiring architect and avid watercolorist before adopting what Heller calls his "sociopolitical art project." The Führer sought to control all aspects of the Nazi brand, from the swastika "logo" to his own image, with mustache but without glasses. Heller argues that Mao with his "Mona Lisa smile" and Lenin with his proletarian cap functioned in much the same way as "trade characters" like Joe Camel or the Geico gecko, putting "a friendly face on an otherwise inanimate (or sometimes inhumane) product." Like modern corporate competitors, these leaders borrowed freely from one another, with Hitler taking the straight-armed Roman salute from Mussolini and Mao adopting Socialist Realism from the Soviets.

Some of the most interesting pages in "Iron Fists" explore the ambiguous place of avant-garde art in rigidly designed societies. Mussolini and Lenin were more accommodating of Modernist impulses than Hitler, who declared war on "degenerate art" while making an exception for the filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl's "paradigms of heroic branding." The temporary "fusion" of Fascism and the technology-embracing art movement known as Futurism led to some terrific pro-Mussolini visual design before Il Duce settled for neo-Classical "Roman" kitsch instead.

The early years of the Soviet Union provide some of the best examples of art flourishing amid utopian hopes for a new society - in Rodchenko's posters (including his famous promo for "Books" in 1924), El Lissitzky's remarkable children's books and Eisenstein's films. All four regimes ended up suppressing individual creativity as a threat to the total control they sought. When the regimes fell in turn, their brands were retired.

The swastika, an ancient symbol whose meaning, Heller says, "was forever changed when the Nazis co-opted it," is now banned in Germany except for "artistic, scientific, research or educational purposes." Mussolini's body, so central to his national image, was hung from an Esso gas station, an inadvertent premonition, perhaps, that oil companies would henceforth rule the world.

For the most part, Heller's prose is as clear and uncluttered as the graphic design he admires. He takes no ideological position and does not distinguish between repressive regimes of the right (sometimes called "authoritarian") or the left. Nor does he advance any overarching theory about the destiny of art in totalitarian regimes, though he leaves no doubt about the grim fate of ordinary citizens. Given his dark subject, he can be forgiven for abusing adjectives like "infamous," "horrific," "diabolical" and "heinous," though such words lose some of their power with the third or fourth repetition. They also obscure the continuity between branding campaigns of the past and our own battles over flag pins and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Heller makes no claims to a comprehensive survey, but one wonders why Imperial Japan, at least as "infamous" as Fascist Italy and with an interesting record of artists roped into the cause, was spared. One might also cavil about the material's organization, which places the Nazis first, according them a third of the book, even though Lenin's revolution and Mussolini's Fascism predate Hitler's rise.

Still, as Heller makes clear, the Nazis were the supreme masters of branding, both at the figurative level, in the vicious propaganda campaign he calls the "branding demonization" of the German Jews, and in a literal sense, as the Nazis "resorted to the most degrading branding technique imaginable." My German grandparents, with a big "J" stamped across their ex it passports, were among the lucky ones. Those less fortunate, as Primo Levi wrote of the inmates of Auschwitz, were branded with an indelible tattoo: "This is the mark with which slaves are branded and cattle sent to the slaughter, and that is what you have become. You no longer have a name; this is your new name."


Friday, August 1, 2008

Stay Tuned! ToD on WLRN's South Florida Arts Beat

Tune in to WLRN (91.3 FM) TODAY, Friday, August 1st, to hear contributor Judith Bishop's review of The Wolfsonian's new exhibitions. Thoughts on Democracy and other Wolfsonian shows will be discussed on WLRN's "South Florida Arts Beat" at 1pm.

If you aren't near a radio but want to listen to the show, you can listen online at Just click on "Listen Online, 91.3" at the top of the page to hear the radio station's streaming signal straight from your computer.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dynamo Museum Shop Spotlight: Propaganda Products by CP+B

Can’t get enough Thoughts on Democracy, but don’t have enough wall space for a poster? Check out these ToD inspired products created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, one of the exhibition contributors. Exclusively on sale at The Wolfsonian’s Dynamo Museum Shop and Café, these interactive products stimulate your creativity in thinking about your own “thoughts on democracy.”

Thoughts on Democracy Ad Lib Pads:

Building on the interactive nature of the fill-in-the-blank Star Spangled Banner poster (and because of its overwhelming popularity) CP+B has created a portable note pad version so you can have a little fun with democracy anywhere, anytime. Just gather ye patriot friends, and throw a late night ad lib karaoke party. “Oh, say can you blank by the dawn’s early light.”
Dynamo Price: $5.00

Political Post-it® Notes:

If only it were this easy to get the candidates to echo your exact thoughts and sentiments. These quirky illustrated Post-it® Notes feature Presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain with blank word bubbles. That’s where you come in. Use them to create your own spirited political debate between the Democratic and Republican sparring partners. But please, use them responsibly. The last thing we want to encourage is making a complete mockery of our nation’s sacred democratic process.
Dynamo Price: $10.00

If you have questions or would like to purchase one of these items, visit The Dynamo Café at The Wolfsonian-FIU (located at 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL). Or, contact the museum shop manager at or 305.535.2680.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Banned Books. Designer Housewares. Wearable Art. Unusual Toys…These and books by Thoughts on Democracy contributors on sale at The Dynamo

Voted “Best Bookstore” in Miami by the New Times, The Dynamo Museum Shop and Café is (in)famous for its “propaganda products” and book collection – which include design periodicals, exhibition catalogs, banned books and other titillating titles. Now, books by and about Thoughts on Democracy artists have been added to the Dynamo shelves. From essays and art books, to do-it-yourself design and collections of poetry, the Dynamo’s collection of ToD related titles include:

Women by Ruth Ansel
Looking Closer 1, Looking Closer 2, Looking Closer 3, Looking Closer 4, Looking Closer 5, and 79 Short Essays on Design by Michael Bierut
Graphic Design History featuring references to R.O. Blechman
How to be a Graphic Designer without Losing Your Soul (featuring references to Neville Brody)
Designers are Wankers by Neville Brody
Graphic Style and The Push Pin Graphic by Seymour Chwast
The Miracles of Passover and The Miracles of the Bible illustrated by Seymore Chwast
Wim Crouwel Alphabets
Letters on America (OP) by Ed Fella
As Far as the Eye Can See by Liam Gillick from a Lawrence Weiner exhibition at the Whitney Museum
Liam Gillick by Liam Gillick
Essays on Graphic Design, New Media, & Visual Culture by Jessica Helfand
Iron Fists by Steven Heller
Illustration coauthored by Steven Heller and Seymour Chwast
Pentagon Papers and Profile Pentagram Design by Kit Hinrichs
Spencer Finch: what time by Tim Hossler
Guillermo Kuitca by Guillermo Kuitca
American Illustration 26 – by contributing author Anita Kunz
DIY, DIY Kids, Thinking with Type, Letters from the Avante Garde, Graphic Design, and Skin – Surface, Substance & Design by Ellen Lupton
Seven Notebooks by Campbell McGrath
Caution Five Hungry Soviet Cows by Richard Massey
Design of Dissent and Graphic Design Time Line featuring Chaz Marviyane-Davies
Design Evolution: A Handbook of Basic Design Principles Applied in Contemporary Design with references to Armando Milani
Gary Panter by Gary Panter
Make it Bigger by Paula Scher
How to be a Graphic Designer without Losing your Soul, Cover Art By, and Look at This by Adrian Shaughnessy
Dot dot dot 16 by Dester Sinister
Art of Richard Tuttle and A Project by Richard Tuttle by Richard Tuttle
Francesco Vezzoli by Francesco Vezzoli
Fresh Dialogue 6 with contributions by James Victore
Deep Blue Skylight and Lawrence Weiner by Lawrence Weiner

If you have questions or would like to purchase one of these titles, visit The Dynamo Café at The Wolfsonian-FIU (located at 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL) OR contact the museum shop manager at or 305.535.2680.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New! At Aventura Mall

Next time you are shopping at The Aventura Mall, don’t forget to visit the second floor space outside of Nordstrom’s to view selected posters from the Thoughts on Democracy exhibit! The Thoughts on Democracy exhibit at The Aventura Mall is co-presented by Turnberry for the Arts, and will be on view through the end of August 2008.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Politics and Design: The New Yorker cover

As has been widely reported, the July 21, 2008 cover of the New Yorker magazine has been become a major subject of debate and controversy. Illustrated by Barry Blitt and entitled “The Politics of Fear,” the cover depicts presidential candidate Barack Obama and his wife Michelle as caricatures of anti-American sentiment, illustrating some of the accusations that have been attributed to them during their campaign.

David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, discusses the cover here.

While some interpret the cover as satire, others have labeled it slander, believing that the New Yorker should not have had it published. Whatever your perspective, Kate Rawlinson, Wolfsonian Assistant Director for Education and Public Programs, points out that the cover controversy “connects to issues around propaganda, visual literacy, and personal perception,” and relates to the overall mission of The Wolfsonian. Indeed, the New Yorker cover is insightful in terms of the Thoughts on Democracy exhibition, particularly since some ToD artists are contributors to the New Yorker.

Feel free to leave your comments about the New Yorker, Thoughts on Democracy, or, more generally, the relationship between politics and design on this blog.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Posters from Thoughts on Democracy Available for Purchase

Based on interest from Thoughts on Democracy enthusiasts, The Wolfsonian's museum shop and cafe, The Dynamo, is now taking orders for posters from the exhibit.

All of the posters from the exhibit will be printed in 16" x 20" format for $25 plus shipping and handling. Posters will be printed as ordered, and will be available at the end of July.

To place an order, please contact the museum shop manager at or 305.535.2680 with the name of the designer and poster of your choice. You can use this blog,, or The Wolfsonian's Flickr account,, to view and select from all of the Thoughts on Democracy posters. To use the blog, just scroll down the website until you see the "Contents" heading on the right-hand tool bar. Under contents, you can either click on a designer's name to view their poster OR, if you do not know the name of the designer or want to see all of the posters, click on the "ToD posters" link to see all exhibition images. To use The Wolfsonian's Flickr account, click on sets and then select from the posters in the "Thoughts on Democracy" set.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

What are YOUR thoughts on Democracy?

During the exhibition opening on July 3rd, 2008, visitors were asked to share their own "Thoughts on Democracy." The following videos represent a selection of visitors' ideas about democracy, and reflect the range of perspectives and conversations that the Thoughts on Democracy exhibition has sparked.

Contributing artist George Mill shares his Thoughts on Democracy


The Thoughts on Democracy opening

Last week, over 250 people visited The Wolfsonian-FIU to attend the member's preview and exhibition opening of Thoughts on Democracy. With a mixed crowd of young and old, families and singles, artists and patrons of the arts, attendees at the opening enjoyed classic American refreshments while viewing the posters on display. Find more pictures from the event on The Wolfsonian's Flickr account.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thoughts on Democracy opens today!

Today is the member's preview of Thoughts on Democracy and A Bittersweet Decade: The New Deal in America, 1933-43. The event takes place at The Wolfsonian-FIU (1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach) from 6:30-8:30pm. Free for Wolfsonian members, guests of members $10. RSVP 305.535.2631 or

The exhibitions will officially open to the public on July 5th.

Please note, the museum will be closed on Independence Day.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Thoughts on Democracy in The Miami Herald

To celebrate the Fourth of July, Thoughts of Democracy will be delivered to your door in the July 4th edition of The Miami Herald.


Exhibition Brochure


Campbell McGrath

Campbell McGrath is the author of seven books of poetry, including Seven Notebooks and Florida Poems. His many awards include Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundation fellowships and the Kingsley Tufts Prize. His work has been published in The New Yorker, Atlantic, Harper’s, and on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times, as well as in the Paris Review and other literary journals. He lives in Miami Beach and is the Philip and Patricia Frost Professor of Creative Writing at Florida International University.


Thoughts on Democracy is coming to The Aventura Mall

After visiting the exhibition opening at The Wolfsonian, head to The Aventura Mall to view a selection from Thoughts on Democracy outside the museum walls. Opening for Independence Day, and on display thorugh August 2008, works from Thoughts on Democracy will be exhibited in The Aventura Mall, next to Nordstrom's on the second floor of the mall.

Current View...

Coming soon...

In the spirit of democracy, this timely and relevant “graphic remix” project is co-presented by Turnberry for the Arts exhibited at The Aventura Mall.


Thoughts on Democracy opens tomorrow!

There is 1 Day until Thoughts on Democracy opens at The Wolfsonian!

Get ready for the opening by "browsing" the lobby walls! Click on the images to enlarge the size.

North Lobby Wall

South Lobby Wall


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Coutdown to the Opening continues...

There are 2 Days until Thoughts on Democracy opens at The Wolfsonian!

Preparations for the opening continue...


Monday, June 30, 2008

The Wolfsonian's Celebrating America exhibition series kicks off July 5th, with Thoughts on Democracy and A Bittersweet Decade

There are 3 Days until Thoughts on Democracy opens at The Wolfsonian!

In addition to Thoughts on Democracy, another exhibition will open at The Wolfsonian-FIU on July 5th:

On view beginning July 5, 2008 through January 19, 2009, A Bittersweet Decade commemorates the seventy-fifth anniversary of the New Deal, considers the impact of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s programs on American culture and explores how the government’s patronage of art, design, and architecture were integral parts of the larger project of the New Deal, which aimed to spur recovery from the Great Depression and change American society.

Thoughts on Democracy and A Bittersweet Decade kick-off The Wolfsonian's Celebrating America exhibition season. To find out more about the Celebrating America series of exhibits,


MIAMI BEACH, FL (April 29, 2008)―The Wolfsonian-Florida International University announces its upcoming exhibition season, “Celebrating America”. Comprised of a series of exhibitions examining the social, political, and cultural American experience from the 1930s to the present, “Celebrating America” showcases four exhibitions: A Bittersweet Decade: The New Deal in America, 1933-43; Thoughts on Democracy; American Streamlined Design: The World of Tomorrow; and The American Automobile Scene.

A Bittersweet Decade: The New Deal in America, 1933-43 (July 5, 2008-January 19, 2009)
Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the New Deal, A Bittersweet Decade: The New Deal in America, 1933-43 considers the impact of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs on American culture. The exhibition, on view July 5, 2008 through January 19, 2009, explores how the government’s patronage of art, design, and architecture were integral parts of the larger project of the New Deal, which aimed to spur recovery from the Great Depression and change American society. Drawing largely on the resources of The Wolfsonian–FIU, and complemented by the collections of local and national supporters, including Martin Z. Margulies, Jason Schoen, Frederic A. Sharf, and Wolfsonian founder Mitchell Wolfson, Jr., this exhibition showcases the range of art and design generated by New Deal programs. Paintings, sculpture, prints, posters, mural studies, photographs, books, models, furniture and a variety of other objects will be on view. Special attention is given to the impact of the New Deal on South Florida, through murals for local post offices, the building of county parks, the establishment of the Key West artists’ colony, and the construction of the Overseas Highway, among other projects.

The exhibition is accompanied by the book, The New Deal in South Florida: Design, Policy, and Community Building, 1933-1940. This compilation of essays, published by the University Press of Florida, explores how local organizations with federal assistance re-shaped the South Florida landscape. It is co-edited by FIU faculty members John F. Stack, Jr. and John A. Stuart and includes essays by landscape architect Ted Baker, Wolfsonian chief curator Marianne Lamonaca, and Cornell University professor Mary Woods, as well as by the two editors.

Thoughts on Democracy (July 5, 2008-December 7, 2008)
The Thoughts on Democracy is comprised of posters created by fifty-five leading contemporary artists and designers, invited by The Wolfsonian to create a new graphic design inspired by American illustrator Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” posters of 1943, copies of which were recently gifted to the museum by Leonard A. Lauder. Some of the participating artists involved in the project are Neville Brody, Seymour Chwast, Wim Crouwel, Elliott Earls, Richard Tuttle, Lawrence Weiner, Paula Scher, Francesco Vezzoli, Chip Kidd, and Italo Lupi, among others. Rockwell’s images, reproduced by the U.S. Office of War Information for mass dissemination, communicated FDR’s vision of “a world founded upon four essential human freedoms,”—Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. The exhibition will be on view and free to the public in the museum’s lobby from July 5, 2008 through December 7, 2008. Thoughts on Democracy will highlight contemporary notions of democracy. The project will culminate with an event celebrating democracy during the prestigious 2008 Art Basel Miami Beach festival.

American Streamlined Design: The World of Tomorrow (October 23, 2008-May 17, 2009)
Running concurrently with the other two exhibitions, and on view October 23, 2008 through May 17, 2009, is American Streamlined Design: The World of Tomorrow. This exploration of the streamlined style in America is arranged thematically according to the spheres of life – the office, manual labor, home, and recreation. Although it focuses on the 1930s and ‘40s, the period during which streamlined design developed in the United States, the exhibition also presents streamlining in design today. The exhibition offers a fresh appraisal of its subject, placing the achievements of its best-known exponents – among them Norman Bel Geddes, Henry Dreyfuss, Raymond Loewy, and Walter Dorwin Teague – squarely alongside the contributions of lesser-known but significant designers such as Lurell E. Guild, Clifford Brooks Stevens, Harold Van Doren. The exhibition posits that the streamlining of the 1930s is properly understood as a unique stylistic expression.

The most comprehensive traveling exhibition on the subject to be circulated, it is comprised of more than 150 objects—many never exhibited before—including furniture, ceramics, industrial design, original drawings, and book designs. The exhibition makes a case for the vigor of streamlining in today’s design. Among the contemporary designers represented are Jasper Morrison (Thinking Man’s Chair, 1986); Ross Lovegrove (Go Chair, 1999); and Scott Patt (Air Max Contact sneakers for Nike, 2001).

American Streamlined Design: The World of Tomorrow is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, published by Flammarion, Paris. The catalogue provides a scholarly account of the history of streamlining from the 1930s to the present, chronicles the social and stylistic thoughts of the periods, and provides detailed analyses of all the artifacts featured in the exhibition. Available in English and
French editions, the 280-page book features 400 illustrations with essays by David A. Hanks and Anne Hoy, adjunct associate professor, New York University. It is for sale in The Wolfsonian’s Dynamo Museum Shop.

The American Automobile Scene (April-September 2009)

The year-long celebration concludes with The American Automobile Scene, an engaging exploration of automobile design in America from the 1920s through the 1940s, to be presented from April to September 2009. The exhibition examines the role of the automobile in shaping modern American culture. On view will be skillfully and elegantly rendered artworks for concept and production cars; sculpted car models; drawings for automobile showrooms, filling stations, bridges, and roadways; and illustrations for automobile advertisements. These original artworks, together with advertising brochures, auto industry periodicals, and other printed ephemera, will provide audiences with the opportunity to explore how designers and manufacturers of automobiles influenced consumer perceptions. They will also convey the social, political, and economic context of this volatile time period characterized by the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression through the Second World War.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Preparing for the Thoughts on Democracy

There are 6 Days until Thoughts on Democracy opens at The Wolfsonian!

The walls are painted, the layout is set, and the posters are ready...


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Countdown to the Exhibition Opening Begins!

There are 7 Days until Thoughts on Democracy opens at The Wolfsonian!

For a "sneak peek" of the show, check out Tim Hossler's artist's rendering to see how the lobby at The Wolfsonian will be transformed...

Before ToD...

After ToD...


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Exhibition Opening! - Thoughts on Democracy Members Preview and Reception, July 3rd, 2008

The Thoughts on Democracy exhibition will open to the public on July 5th


Monday, June 23, 2008

Chip Kidd

I really, really struggled with this one. I was torn between pursuing two different concepts‹first, the lack of these freedoms in other countries; second, a caution about the abuse of these freedoms in the US. I ultimately went with the latter. The point is that every day we see how these freedoms can not only be taken for granted, but that they can be twisted to harmful ends by the very people they are meant to serve. Thus Freedom from Want leads to rampant obesity; Freedom of Worship leads to using God to hate; Freedom of Speech leads to destruction of property; and Freedom from Fear leads to the proliferation and deadly use of guns.

Chipp Kidd
is a graphic designer and writer based in New York City. His book jacket designs for Alfred A. Knopf, where he has worked since 1986, have helped spawn a revolution in the art of American book packaging... The Cheese Monkeys, Kidd’s first novel, was published in 2001 and was a national bestseller, a well as a New York Times Notable book of the Year. His second novel, The Learners, was published in 2008 to tremendous acclaim. A comprehensive monograph of Kidd’s work, CHIP KIDD: BOOK ONE was published in 2005 with an introduction by John Updike; the 400 page book features over 800 works. He is the recipient of the 2007 National Design Award for Communications. Of his work, Time Out New York write: “The history of book design can be split into two eras: before graphic designer Chip Kidd and after.”


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Design and Politics: Steven Heller's NY Times Article

As the Rockwell and Thoughts on Democracy posters illustrate, design can influence politics (and politics can influence design). Steven Heller, one of the co-curators of the Thoughts on Democracy exhibit, addresses this relationship in the context of the current presidential campaign in his recent NY Times article, "From Mousepads to Piggybanks".

From Mousepads to Piggy Banks (NY Times; May 4, 2008)

This primary season campaign souvenirs are cropping up like kudzu. Retail stores on each of the candidates’ official Web sites offer copious merchandise from lapel pins and mousepads to hoodies and onesies alongside the requisite buttons and bumper stickers. Given the ease with which a logo or slogan can be stamped on any product, the sheer quantity of retail campaign stuff is possibly greater than at any other time in history, albeit a lot less campy than during other elections.

What a particular campaign chooses to sell may not reveal anything momentous about a candidate who has little to say about the inventory (unless, of course, they have relatives in the novelty or dry goods businesses), but the products do say something about how strategists use consumer culture to propagate the candidates’ images (and get free advertising).

So I asked four design critics to examine the quality of the candidates’ online stores, and to go a little below the surface to extract some deeper meaning from the merchandise being sold.

John McCain comes out ahead in the retail offerings with the broadest inventory (from wall clocks to water bottles), notes Julie Lasky, editor of ID magazine. Hillary Clinton comes in a close second (including coffee mugs and plastic piggy banks) and Barack Obama a more focused third.

But the difference is not just quantity. “McCain is the only candidate to offer leisure-class items like polo shirts (including stylishly hued pink ones for men) and sailing jackets before getting down to the nitty-gritty of hoodies,” Ms. Lasky reports. “Clinton and Obama are all about working-class apparel: T-shirts, hoodies and fleece jackets.”

Karrie Jacobs, a contributing editor to Metropolis, concurs that Senator Obama’s merchandise reflects the grassroots insurgent culture of his campaign. She notes that Senator Clinton’s paraphernalia is “conspicuously ugly,” and questions the taste of whoever is in charge of her campaign’s merchandise.

“Where the real editorial opportunity lies,” adds Allan Chochinov, co-founder of, an industrial design website and blog, “is in the accessories section, and though the easy targets are Clinton’s ironic ‘ruler’ ($3.50; volume pricing available) and McCain’s more oblique ‘ice scraper’ ($10.00), it’s Obama’s ‘hope bracelet’ that is sure to move the merchandise — 4 bucks each and available in both black and white.”

In a race where the issue of race and ethnicity has reared its predictable head, it is also interesting to see that Senators McCain and Obama especially reach out to their Irish constituencies and their female supporters. Senator Clinton sells her “Hillary for Women” paraphernalia lumped in with narrowly focused buttons for Asian-American and Pacific Islanders, African-Americans, gays, educators, nurses, Jews and veterans — but no mention of the Irish.

Julie Lasky also observes that Senators Clinton and Obama both freely borrow the “Got Milk?” slogan (Obama: “Got Hope?”; Hillary: “Got Experience?”), which is less indicative of their unoriginality than of the ubiquity of the milk campaign.

Alissa Walker, a design blogger, says John McCain’s merchandise works well because it clearly projects the image of a “super-serious” candidate “in shades of black, navy blue and gold.” She points out that his nautical lapel pins and polo shirts emphasize his military experience.

But Ms. Walker was most impressed by his ownership of the four words: leadership, experience, integrity and honor, which emblazon everything from shirts to signs. “Who wouldn’t be proud to borrow a bit from his legacy and stick this leadership sign on their front lawn? Without wearing the standard McCain shirt, you can wear his values with the message of your choice. I really like this option, and the words that he picked. The only bummer here is the women for McCain stuff — truly stereotypical in a sickening shade of Pepto-Bismol pink.”

Senator Obama’s site is the only one to post a disclaimer that some items are back-ordered; whether true or not, it is a brilliant retail tactic.

“But with all the press Obama’s getting for the design of his campaign,” says Alissa Walker, “I was pretty disappointed by his products. There’s really not much that differentiates Obama’s merchandise from Hillary’s: it’s all the same color of blue.”

However, Senator Obama has a unique multimedia section, including a DVD of his speeches. “The Obama-as-cultural-icon angle is absolutely achieved by selling documentary-style videos of him; he’s crossed the line into entertainment,” says Ms. Walker.

She wonders how effective the merchandise on Clinton’s site is since it is “overwhelmingly girly. All the t-shirts look like they’re designed for women or being worn by women. The lapel pins are really matronly, from the Hillary bling pin to her signature pin by Ann Hand, a jewelry artist.” But Ms. Walker loves the “I’m your girl” button with its casual portrait and Senator Clinton’s handwriting. “They should make this image into posters because it gives her campaign a much-needed boost of that evasive personality.”

Julie Lasky observes that in all this, Senator McCain may lose the vote of bargain seekers: at $25, his T-shirts are $4.92 more expensive than similar versions on the Clinton and Obama Web sites.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Thoughts on Democracy on Flickr

Tag, comment, and share images and posters from Thoughts on Democracy with Flickr!

To contribute your own photos to the Thoughts on Democracy Flickr site, use the tag "Thoughts on Democracy."


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thoughts on Democracy is now on YouTube!

See all of the Thoughts on Democracy posters on YouTube!


The Wolfsonian-FIU Press Release and Breakfast


Thoughts on Democracy Press Release


60 Contemporary Artists and Designers Offer Interpretations of Norman Rockwell’s
Iconic “Four Freedoms” Posters

MIAMI BEACH, FL (May 29, 2008)
- The Wolfsonian–Florida International University announces Thoughts on Democracy, an innovative initiative that brings together 60 renowned contemporary artists and designers to present original works inspired by Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” posters. Thoughts on Democracy is part of CELEBRATING AMERICA, a series of four exhibitions on view in 2008 and 2009, that examine and celebrate the social, political, and personal American experience from the 1930s to the present.

In keeping with its theme, Thoughts on Democracy is free and open to the public in the museum’s lobby beginning July 5 through December 7, 2008. The exhibition will culminate with an event celebrating democracy during the prestigious 2008 Art Basel Miami Beach festival. In conjunction with the show, The Wolfsonian is also producing limited-edition portfolios of the new works (available in September), with all proceeds benefiting the graphic arts acquisitions and curatorial and educational programs. A poster that compiles all four of Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” images is on view in The Wolfsonian’s permanent collection gallery.

“We invited artists and designers to participate in a ‘graphic remix’ that would reinterpret Rockwell’s posters in today’s visual language,” said Wolfsonian Art Director Tim Hossler, who conceived the project and is co-curating the show with Steven Heller, co-chair of the MFA Design Department at the School of Visual Arts. “We are thrilled with the response and are eager to see how the participants’ exploration of democracy stimulates public conversation on the subject.”

Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” paintings were first published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943, and were later issued by the government as posters for a U.S. war bond drive. The paintings illustrated the ideals expressed in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s impassioned “Four Freedoms” speech to Congress in 1941, in which he envisioned a “world founded upon four essential human freedoms”—Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear.

“We are always looking for new, provocative ways to foster dialogue around our collection in relation to contemporary issues, particularly when we are able to involve contemporary artists and graphic designers,” said The Wolfsonian’s director, Cathy Leff. “Thoughts on Democracy will be a fascinating and timely reflection of how Roosevelt’s universal ideals, articulated in 1941, are interpreted and expressed in 2008.” She explained that The Wolfsonian’s impetus for the project was a recent gift of the “Four Freedoms” posters to the museum by Leonard A. Lauder.

The public will also be able to enjoy and contemplate the new works beyond the museum walls. The Wolfsonian, in partnership with the award-winning international advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, also playing a role as exhibitor, will display the posters in newspapers and on billboards. The Wolfsonian will also offer public educational programming in conjunction with the exhibit and promote dialogue about the show on the internet using web-based tools (Flickr, iGoogle gadgets), a Thoughts on Democracy blog (, virtual worlds, and social networking sites (The Wolfsonian Facebook page).

In keeping with the spirit of expanding Thoughts on Democracy into the greater public domain, The Wolfsonian will also partner with Turnberry for the Arts to present a concurrent exhibition of the posters in the Aventura Mall (, 19501 Biscayne Boulevard, beginning July 5 through August 2008. “Turnberry for the Arts is delighted to have the opportunity to share the artworks in this exciting and timely exhibition with visitors at Aventura Mall. The Thoughts on Democracy project is a wonderful complement to the works by contemporary artists that are permanently on display at the mall. Two of the artists - Lawrence Weiner, whose installation is currently on view here, and Daniel Arsham, whose installation will be unveiled at the mall this fall, are also featured in The Wolfsonian's exhibition," noted Jacqueline Fletcher, Director of the Turnberry for the Arts program.

All artists and designers included in the exhibition have generously donated their time and creativity. Thoughts on Democracy is supported by a generous grant from the Funding Arts Network (FAN), in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Wolfsonian is the only recipient of FAN’s Knight New Work Award for 2008; the $50,000 grant was awarded to the museum in May 2008. “The ambitious scale of Thoughts on Democracy and its resonating message of democracy made this project irresistibly compelling,” said Rachel Blechman, president of FAN. Additional support for Thoughts on Democracy is provided by Turnberry for the Arts exhibited at the Aventura Mall.

About the artists
As illustrated by the quantity and quality of the posters that will be on display, the idea behind Thoughts on Democracy was received with an outpouring of enthusiasm by the participants. Local, national, and international visual artists, graphic designers, and one poet contributed works to the project. A brief biography of select artists from the exhibition, and a statement about their poster follows below:

Elliott Earls is a performance artist, musician, and designer, and is designer-in-residence and head of the Graduate Graphic Design Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Earls has lectured extensively at American universities, and has given workshops on design, culture and new media in Europe and America.

Artist’s Statement: Entitled “Liberty Weeps,” Elliott Earls’ contribution to The Wolfsonian’s Thoughts on Democracy poster project was inspired by Eugene Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People." In this piece, Liberty is embodied in the innocence of a crying child. Is Liberty crying for the victims of September 11th? Is Liberty crying over the loss of civil liberties in the War on Terror? Is Liberty crying for our fallen soldiers in Iraq or for the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay? The open nature of the language in this poster contrasted with the specificity of the image is meant to provoke discussion.

Experimental Jetset is an Amsterdam graphic design unit founded in 1997 by Marieke Stolk, Erwin Brinkers and Danny van den Dungen. Focusing on printed matter and installation work, Experimental Jetset has worked on projects for the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum (SMCS), Purple Institute, Centre Pompidou, Colette, Dutch Post Group (TPG), Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN), Le Cent Quatre (104), De Theatercompagnie, and t-shirt label 2K/Gingham.

Artist’s Statement: The slogan “Loose Lips Build Ships” is a collision of two iconic WWII posters: the “Freedom of Speech” poster as painted by Rockwell, and the “Loose Lips Sink Ships” poster, the US Office of War Information's attempt to limit the possibility of people inadvertently giving useful information to enemy spies.

On the one hand, our contribution is a tribute to the concept of freedom of speech: the idea that all constructive things start with an open exchange of ideas. On the other hand, we wanted to show our uneasiness with the concept of propaganda. Acknowledging freedom of speech by turning a propaganda slogan on its head is our attempt to create a little bit of friction, or better said, to reveal a friction that is already there.

Taku Satoh is a Tokyo-based graphic and product designer, and the director of 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT in Tokyo. He attended Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music for both undergraduate and graduate school and then joined the firm Dentsu, before establishing the Taku Satoh Design Office in 1984.

Artist’s Statement:
Inspired by the four posters of freedoms drawn by Normal Rockwell, I have added
the most important kind of freedom for the present time.
That is “Freedom to Imagine.” Nothing should prevent imagination.
Imagination creates the future. Imagination cultivates technology.
Imagination saves the environment. Imagination protects human rights.
Imagination prevents battles. Imagination creates art.
Everything begins with imagination.
Of course it is imagination for coexistence of different cultures, not a selfish imagination.

Scott Stowell is the proprietor of Open, an independent design studio that creates rewarding experiences for people that look, read, and think. Before starting Open, Stowell received a BFA in graphic design from Rhode Island School of Design and served as the art director of Colors magazine in Rome and a senior designer at M&Co. New York. A former vice president of AIGA/NY, Stowell teaches at Yale and the School of Visual Arts.

Artist’s Statement: This poster uses words – from FDR's speech and Rockwell's posters – distilled into calls to action that are still relevant and urgent today. The typography was inspired both by traditional "show print" posters and the I AM A MAN signs from Martin Luther King's 1968 march in Memphis. Two of these calls to action are usually heard from the left. They appear in blue. The other two, more often heard from the right, are in red.

Lawrence Weiner is a central figure in the history of conceptual art, whose work often takes the form of typographic texts. The first presentation of his work was in Mill Valley, California in 1960. He participates in public and private projects and exhibitions in both the new and old world maintaining that: art is the empirical fact of the relationships of objects to objects in relation to human beings and not dependent upon historical precedent for either use or legitimacy.

Artist’s Statement:

About The Wolfsonian–Florida International University
The Wolfsonian is a museum, library, and research center that uses objects to illustrate the persuasive power of art and design, to explore what it means to be modern, and to tell the story of social, historical, and technological changes that have transformed our world. The collections comprise approximately 120,000 objects from the period of 1885 to 1945—the height of the Industrial Revolution to the end of the Second World War—in a variety of media including furniture; industrial-design objects; works in glass, ceramics, and metal; rare books; periodicals; ephemera; works on paper; paintings; textiles; and medals.

The Wolfsonian is located at 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, Fla. Admission is $7 adults; $5 seniors, students, and children six-12; free for Wolfsonian members, State University System of Florida staff and students with ID, children under six, and Miami Beach residents with ID. The museum is open Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday from noon-6pm; Thursday and Friday from noon-9pm; and is closed on Wednesday. Contact us at 305.531.1001 or visit us online at
The Wolfsonian receives ongoing support from the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs; the Florida Arts Council; the National Endowment for the Arts; the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council; the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; the City of Miami Beach, Cultural Affairs Program, Cultural Arts Council; the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Foundation; the William J. & Tina Rosenberg Foundation; Continental Airlines, the preferred airline of The Wolfsonian; Crispin Porter + Bogusky; The Miami Herald; Bacardi U.S.A., Inc; Robert Mondavi Winery; and Pistils & Petals.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" Speech

On January 6, 1941, United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt presented his annual State of the Union Address to Congress. Presented when the United States was on the brink of entering into World War II, Roosevelt’s speech has become known as the “Four Freedoms” speech for the President’s enunciation of the “four essential human freedoms:” freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom of want, and freedom from fear.

Hear FDR's speech at The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library
Full Text of The Four Freedoms Speech

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Seventy-seventh Congress:

I address you, the Members of the Seventy-seventh Congress, at a moment unprecedented in the history of the Union. I use the word "unprecedented," because at no previous time has American security been as seriously threatened from without as it is today.

Since the permanent formation of our Government under the Constitution, in 1789, most of the periods of crisis in our history have related to our domestic affairs. Fortunately, only one of these--the four-year War Between the States--ever threatened our national unity. Today, thank God, one hundred and thirty million Americans, in forty-eight States, have forgotten points of the compass in our national unity.

It is true that prior to 1914 the United States often had been disturbed by events in other Continents. We had even engaged in two wars with European nations and in a number of undeclared wars in the West Indies, in the Mediterranean and in the Pacific for the maintenance of American rights and for the principles of peaceful commerce. But in no case had a serious threat been raised against our national safety or our continued independence.

What I seek to convey is the historic truth that the United States as a nation has at all times maintained clear, definite opposition, to any attempt to lock us in behind an ancient Chinese wall while the procession of civilization went past. Today, thinking of our children and of their children, we oppose enforced isolation for ourselves or for any other part of the Americas.

That determination of ours, extending over all these years, was proved, for example, during the quarter century of wars following the French Revolution.

While the Napoleonic struggles did threaten interests of the United States because of the French foothold in the West Indies and in Louisiana, and while we engaged in the War of 1812 to vindicate our right to peaceful trade, it is nevertheless clear that neither France nor Great Britain, nor any other nation, was aiming at domination of the whole world.

In like fashion from 1815 to 1914-- ninety-nine years-- no single war in Europe or in Asia constituted a real threat against our future or against the future of any other American nation.

Except in the Maximilian interlude in Mexico, no foreign power sought to establish itself in this Hemisphere; and the strength of the British fleet in the Atlantic has been a friendly strength. It is still a friendly strength.

Even when the World War broke out in 1914, it seemed to contain only small threat of danger to our own American future. But, as time went on, the American people began to visualize what the downfall of democratic nations might mean to our own democracy.

We need not overemphasize imperfections in the Peace of Versailles. We need not harp on failure of the democracies to deal with problems of world reconstruction. We should remember that the Peace of 1919 was far less unjust than the kind of "pacification" which began even before Munich, and which is being carried on under the new order of tyranny that seeks to spread over every continent today. The American people have unalterably set their faces against that tyranny.

Every realist knows that the democratic way of life is at this moment being' directly assailed in every part of the world--assailed either by arms, or by secret spreading of poisonous propaganda by those who seek to destroy unity and promote discord in nations that are still at peace.

During sixteen long months this assault has blotted out the whole pattern of democratic life in an appalling number of independent nations, great and small. The assailants are still on the march, threatening other nations, great and small.

Therefore, as your President, performing my constitutional duty to "give to the Congress information of the state of the Union," I find it, unhappily, necessary to report that the future and the safety of our country and of our democracy are overwhelmingly involved in events far beyond our borders.

Armed defense of democratic existence is now being gallantly waged in four continents. If that defense fails, all the population and all the resources of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australasia will be dominated by the conquerors. Let us remember that the total of those populations and their resources in those four continents greatly exceeds the sum total of the population and the resources of the whole of the Western Hemisphere-many times over.

In times like these it is immature--and incidentally, untrue--for anybody to brag that an unprepared America, single-handed, and with one hand tied behind its back, can hold off the whole world.

No realistic American can expect from a dictator's peace international generosity, or return of true independence, or world disarmament, or freedom of expression, or freedom of religion -or even good business.

Such a peace would bring no security for us or for our neighbors. "Those, who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

As a nation, we may take pride in the fact that we are softhearted; but we cannot afford to be soft-headed.

We must always be wary of those who with sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal preach the "ism" of appeasement.

We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American eagle in order to feather their own nests.

I have recently pointed out how quickly the tempo of modern warfare could bring into our very midst the physical attack which we must eventually expect if the dictator nations win this war.

There is much loose talk of our immunity from immediate and direct invasion from across the seas. Obviously, as long as the British Navy retains its power, no such danger exists. Even if there were no British Navy, it is not probable that any enemy would be stupid enough to attack us by landing troops in the United States from across thousands of miles of ocean, until it had acquired strategic bases from which to operate.

But we learn much from the lessons of the past years in Europe-particularly the lesson of Norway, whose essential seaports were captured by treachery and surprise built up over a series of years.

The first phase of the invasion of this Hemisphere would not be the landing of regular troops. The necessary strategic points would be occupied by secret agents and their dupes- and great numbers of them are already here, and in Latin America.

As long as the aggressor nations maintain the offensive, they-not we--will choose the time and the place and the method of their attack.

That is why the future of all the American Republics is today in serious danger.

That is why this Annual Message to the Congress is unique in our history.

That is why every member of the Executive Branch of the Government and every member of the Congress faces great responsibility and great accountability.

The need of the moment is that our actions and our policy should be devoted primarily-almost exclusively--to meeting this foreign peril. For all our domestic problems are now a part of the great emergency.

Just as our national policy in internal affairs has been based upon a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all our fellow men within our gates, so our national policy in foreign affairs has been based on a decent respect for the rights and dignity of all nations, large and small. And the justice of morality must and will win in the end.
Our national policy is this:

First, by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship, we are committed to all-inclusive national defense.

Second, by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship, we are committed to full support of all those resolute peoples, everywhere, who are resisting aggression and are thereby keeping war away from our Hemisphere. By this support, we express our determination that the democratic cause shall prevail; and we strengthen the defense and the security of our own nation.

Third, by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship, we are committed to the proposition that principles of morality and considerations for our own security will never permit us to acquiesce in a peace dictated by aggressors and sponsored by appeasers. We know that enduring peace cannot be bought at the cost of other people's freedom.

In the recent national election there was no substantial difference between the two great parties in respect to that national policy. No issue was fought out on this line before the American electorate. Today it is abundantly evident that American citizens everywhere are demanding and supporting speedy and complete action in recognition of obvious danger.

Therefore, the immediate need is a swift and driving increase in our armament production.

Leaders of industry and labor have responded to our summons. Goals of speed have been set. In some cases these goals are being reached ahead of time; in some cases we are on schedule; in other cases there are slight but not serious delays; and in some cases--and I am sorry to say very important cases--we are all concerned by the slowness of the accomplishment of our plans.

The Army and Navy, however, have made substantial progress during the past year. Actual experience is improving and speeding up our methods of production with every passing day. And today's best is not good enough for tomorrow.

I am not satisfied with the progress thus far made. The men in charge of the program represent the best in training, in ability, and in patriotism. They are not satisfied with the progress thus far made. None of us will be satisfied until the job is done.

No matter whether the original goal was set too high or too low, our objective is quicker and better results. To give you two illustrations:

We are behind schedule in turning out finished airplanes; we are working day and night to solve the innumerable problems and to catch up.

We are ahead of schedule in building warships but we are working to get even further ahead of that schedule.

To change a whole nation from a basis of peacetime production of implements of peace to a basis of wartime production of implements of war is no small task. And the greatest difficulty comes at the beginning of the program, when new tools, new plant facilities, new assembly lines, and new ship ways must first be constructed before the actual materiel begins to flow steadily and speedily from them.

The Congress, of course, must rightly keep itself informed at all times of the progress of the program. However, there is certain information, as the Congress itself will readily recognize, which, in the interests of our own security and those of the nations that we are supporting, must of needs be kept in confidence.

New circumstances are constantly begetting new needs for our safety. I shall ask this Congress for greatly increased new appropriations and authorizations to carry on what we have begun.

I also ask this Congress for authority and for funds sufficient to manufacture additional munitions and war supplies of many kinds, to be turned over to those nations which are now in actual war with aggressor nations.

Our most useful and immediate role is to act as an arsenal for them as well as for ourselves. They do not need man power, but they do need billions of dollars worth of the weapons of defense.

The time is near when they will not be able to pay for them all in ready cash. We cannot, and we will not, tell them that they must surrender, merely because of present inability to pay for the weapons which we know they must have.

I do not recommend that we make them a loan of dollars with which to pay for these weapons--a loan to be repaid in dollars.

I recommend that we make it possible for those nations to continue to obtain war materials in the United States, fitting their orders into our own program. Nearly all their materiel would, if the time ever came, be useful for our own defense.

Taking counsel of expert military and naval authorities, considering what is best for our own security, we are free to decide how much should be kept here and how much should be sent abroad to our friends who by their determined and heroic resistance are giving us time in which to make ready our own defense.

For what we send abroad, we shall be repaid within a reasonable time following the close of hostilities, in similar materials, or, at our option, in other goods of many kinds, which they can produce and which we need.

Let us say to the democracies: "We Americans are vitally concerned in your defense of freedom. We are putting forth our energies, our resources and our organizing powers to give you the strength to regain and maintain a free world. We shall send you, in ever-increasing numbers, ships, planes, tanks, guns. This is our purpose and our pledge."

In fulfillment of this purpose we will not be intimidated by the threats of dictators that they will regard as a breach of international law or as an act of war our aid to the democracies which dare to resist their aggression. Such aid is not an act of war, even if a dictator should unilaterally proclaim it so to be.

When the dictators, if the dictators, are ready to make war upon us, they will not wait for an act of war on our part. They did not wait for Norway or Belgium or the Netherlands to commit an act of war.

Their only interest is in a new one-way international law, which lacks mutuality in its observance, and, therefore, becomes an instrument of oppression.

The happiness of future generations of Americans may well depend upon how effective and how immediate we can make our aid felt. No one can tell the exact character of the emergency situations that we may be called upon to meet. The Nation's hands must not be tied when the Nation's life is in danger.

We must all prepare to make the sacrifices that the emergency-almost as serious as war itself--demands. Whatever stands in the way of speed and efficiency in defense preparations must give way to the national need.

A free nation has the right to expect full cooperation from all groups. A free nation has the right to look to the leaders of business, of labor, and of agriculture to take the lead in stimulating effort, not among other groups but within their own groups.

The best way of dealing with the few slackers or trouble makers in our midst is, first, to shame them by patriotic example, and, if that fails, to use the sovereignty of Government to save Government.

As men do not live by bread alone, they do not fight by armaments alone. Those who man our defenses, and those behind them who build our defenses, must have the stamina and the courage which come from unshakable belief in the manner of life which they are defending. The mighty action that we are calling for cannot be based on a disregard of all things worth fighting for.

The Nation takes great satisfaction and much strength from the things which have been done to make its people conscious of their individual stake in the preservation of democratic life in America. Those things have toughened the fibre of our people, have renewed their faith and strengthened their devotion to the institutions we make ready to protect.

Certainly this is no time for any of us to stop thinking about the social and economic problems which are the root cause of the social revolution which is today a supreme factor in the world.

For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.
Jobs for those who can work.
Security for those who need it.
The ending of special privilege for the few.
The preservation of civil liberties for all.

The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

These are the simple, basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.

Many subjects connected with our social economy call for immediate improvement.
As examples:

We should bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.

We should widen the opportunities for adequate medical care.

We should plan a better system by which persons deserving or needing gainful employment may obtain it.

I have called for personal sacrifice. I am assured of the willingness of almost all Americans to respond to that call.

A part of the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes. In my Budget Message I shall recommend that a greater portion of this great defense program be paid for from taxation than we are paying today. No person should try, or be allowed, to get rich out of this program; and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation.

If the Congress maintains these principles, the voters, putting patriotism ahead of pocketbooks, will give you their applause.

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression--everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way--everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want--which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear--which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor--anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception--the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change -- in a perpetual peaceful revolution -- a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions--without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory.