Is “Rosie the riveter” art?


“Rosie the riveter” or “We can do it!” is believed to have been modeled after a lady named Geraldine Doyle, so the piece imitates her appearance, but otherwise it doesn’t imitate anything other than that.

She displays strength and isn’t displayed in a very feminine manner, but she isn’t imitating a man or any sense of masculinity, which is he whole point behind the poster.


The “We can do it!” poster, a popular symbol of feminism used during the war, when women had to take over the jobs of the men who left to fight in the war. The poster represents all women, displaying a woman dressed in an un-femminine manner, seemly of a somewhat muscular build and holding herself in a pose to represent strength.

Neo-representational theory

The poster has a lot of historical background and meaning behind it, being used as a propaganda poster during the war to gain more women into the workplace in place of the men who were out to fight in the military.


This piece expresses strength using a strong pose and seemingly quite muscular woman. It also has in a big blue speech bubble “We can do it!” which is a very blunt expression of it’s point or meaning. In a time were men worked and women did housework, during the war were the men went to fight and the women were needed to fill in their positions in the factories. This required change to what was deemed a social norm.

Later used as a symbol for feminism the poster highlighted their fight for equality in the workplace, and furthermore. It expressed strength and equality.

With this theory, “Rosie the riveter” can be regarded as art.


On purely visual aspects “We can do it!” is pleasing to the eyes, and conveys a somewhat straight-forward message. Regardless if they spectator is oblivious to the cult-classic poster and what it was used for, the simple visuals of a woman displaying a pose of strength alongside the message “We can do it” will be straight-forward enough as a presentation of feminism, which is what it was later used for by feminist movements.

It’s general display is simplistic, the only two key points of the whole poster being of the woman (Rosie) and the speech bubble. There’s nothing more to it than that. It isn’t complicated, or crowded.


The experience one has towards a piece of art differs between people. I believe this poster has a nice visual, it’s pleasing to the eyes and displays some form of talent in it’s creation. It’s also so widely known as being a classic wartime poster, that it has a nice retro, historical feel to it.

Regardless if they viewer is unaware of the poster it has a great design quality to it, and a positive message. I believe that it would be a well received piece.

The Institutional Theory of Art

The poster has been replicated and mass-produced so much upon it’s later popularity. It’s general purpose was as a poster, an advertisement, not as art. It holds a positive message, but was never deemed by any higher artistic authority as being regarded as a work of art, but rather a piece of wartime propaganda.

It’s seen as a symbol of feminism and of the war for the women. It is a propaganda poster to gain female recruitments into the workplace. It is design, and a cult-classic. It was never mentioned as being art, or displayed as anything other than motivational or historical.

By this theory, it is not art.


The poster is about a time of struggle, and later as a symbol of a policial battle of rights.

So by this theory it is artwork.


This poster doesn’t reject anything, it was a painted and almost pop-art like work that was no different than every other poster of the era. It’s message was to challenge but the medium and technique was not.


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