Section One

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A Good Man Is Hard to Find
Harry S. Truman, Thomas Dewey
Ben Shahn, 1948

Although the person is the product in most political posters, candidate Henry A. Wallace does not appear in Ben Shahn’s 1948 poster for the Progressive Party. Instead, the poster focuses on creating negative, satirical images of Democrat Harry Truman and Republican Thomas Dewey. It was based on a much-publicized photograph of Vice President Truman playing a piano with actress Lauren Bacall lounging seductively on top. Substituting Dewey for Bacall, Shahn cast the political skills of both presidential candidates in a frivolous light, emphasizing the message that “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” in the two major parties.

Shahn first produced a painting that served as the backdrop for Wallace’s appearance at the Progressive Party’s convention in July 1948. It was reproduced in the form of this beautifully printed lithographic poster and distributed nationwide, along with postcards of the image.