Alternate Views: Perspectives on the American Civil War


May 13, 2013 - July 12, 2013
9:00 am - 5:00 pm


Reading Room Gallery
27 W. 17th Avenue Mall
Columbus Ohio

The 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War is commemorated in this exhibition which highlights the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum’s growing collection of nineteenth century prints. Editorial cartoons were not published in newspapers until after the Civil War when technology made it possible to publish them economically in a timely way. Prior to that, broadsheet prints – etchings, engravings and lithographs – were the means cartoonists used for political commentary. Popular magazines such as Harper’s Weekly relied on wood engravings to provide illustrations.

Both sides of the conflict are represented in Alternate Views. As was true during the war, most of the materials represent the views of Union supporters. There was only one cartoonist who published works favoring of the Confederate States of America:  Adelbert Volck, who published under the pseudonym V. Blada. Selected examples of his etchings are included in the exhibition.

The complexity of many of the works displayed in this exhibition is striking. Intricate visual metaphors demand close reading in order to comprehend the meaning of the cartoon. These images were produced when the pace of life was much different. These were intended to be read, reread, and then, read again. When we step back in time to consider these works, their messages are clear, passions are heated, and a complex period in our history is revealed.

Curated by Lucy Shelton Caswell, Professor Emerita, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum