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Volume 4, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 2040-3704
  • E-ISSN: 2040-3712



Visual presentations of political leaders have a long tradition. They convey information about who a politician is and – to a certain degree – his or her political positions. As studiously crafted displays of ideals, such images may also enlarge, challenge, complete or be a substitute for qualities and values. These capacities make images effective tools of political persuasion. While not aiming at a comprehensive overview, this article tries to capture the visual mode of political communication by studying how the portrayal of politicians provides the public with knowledge about the world of politics during different information eras. The main question is how the development of new forms of media, each with individual possibilities and restrictions regarding display, access, reach and storage, facilitate specific forms of visual politics. Examples from each historical era are discussed. Central questions include what images are displayed, how are they displayed and with what media technology. Also examined are rhetorical functions, the images’ institutional anchorage and forms of interaction. Visual presentations of politicians are analysed in their face-to-face interaction with a public, as well as in sculptures, paintings, photographs, film, television and digital media. The examples range from the Greek agora, where citizens could assemble and be taken in ‘at a single view’, to the Nordic prime ministers’ profile pictures on Facebook.


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