SPEAKING OF PICTURES: A VINTAGE GRAPHICS BLOG

THE MEDITATIVE ARCHITECTURE OF MARLON BLACKWELL

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St. Nicolas Eastern Church  Fayetteville, Arkansas

 

In a hive of architectural design like Toronto, you get the distinct impression that we’re blasting away from life as it was until quite recently. Sheer glass, astronomical size and eye-popping details comprise a way out rather than a way back in.

The design practice of Lafayette, Arkansas-based, Marlon Blackwell, has concluded that such an evacuation is not the best route to the future. He is (almost) as intent upon the need for change as his flashier colleagues; but his vision requires active involvement of physical and historical givens in order to display the most fertile constructions.

Shown here is a design opportunity touched by not only that interest in fusion but also touched by a less than mega-bucks market. Blackwell was approached by a Greek Orthodox church in his home base which had to make do with this less than fabulous structure while at the same time concerned about apt beauty and dignity.   Continue reading

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A GRAND TOUR OF GRAPHIC GOLDMINES!

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Buvez du Vin 1933; Leonetto Cappiello; 63″ x 47″; A-,L

These days, we seldom travel to acquire our inventory of vintage posters and smaller-scale graphics. Instead, we have energetic and trustworthy diggers of items, sending photos of what we might want. Today we want to reminisce about those yesteryears when we would be on the road for long periods at a time.

One of our great thrills would be to visit France; and our first image here captures not only something we found, but how we moved along in the finding.    Continue reading

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FORTUNE MAGAZINE (SEPTEMBER 1938) MEASURING CANADA’S WORTH

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We’ll soon be launching our new gallery of vintage Canadian graphic art. And, to give a foretaste of the scintillating and rare treasures we feel so lucky to have found, we’re dipping into an issue of that visually advanced American magazine, Fortune. While the text has some undisciplined and unflattering things to say about Depression-Era Canada’s economy, society and myths, the illustration department paints an absorbing story of wide open spaces and boundless hopes.

The vaguely nineteenth century American landscape touch here is excitingly (surrealistically) supplemented by the spectre of a petrochemical future in Alberta.   Continue reading

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SLEEK AND GRITTY NOCTURNAL GRAPHIC DESIGNS  

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Flying Over Avalon 1940;Ruehl Heckman;14 1/4” x 10 ½ ”;A, P

I’ve always found the endeavors of those who work at night to be strangely special. Someone toiling in an office tower or studio after midnight comes to mind as someone with peculiar energy and range. Restaurants, hospitals, transport businesses and entertainments would seem to deploy a special kind of marine, somehow giving more of him or herself than 9-to-5-ers. Though I’ve felt this way since long before our dealings with vintage graphics, its energies have never, till now, become a part of our acquisition strategies. Therefore, this survey serves as not only a probe of quite unique historical renditions (aesthetic and reflective), but a new focus for searching out special graphic design.

We begin with the heavenly night flight over Catalina Island, a place that dares to cherish the night amidst a population of sun-worshippers. With the beach-front glittering as it does, the transport thrust here falls within the embrace of a business (even a vocation) of glamorous diversions.   Continue reading

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FABULOUS LADIES’ PARTY WEAR—LISTENING TO THE BEAT OF NECESSARY LUXURY IN VINTAGE GRAPHIC ART

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Fourrures Max, Leroy and Schmid 1912;Charles Martin;11″ X 7 5/8″;A, P

When frigid New Year’s Eve seems to check mate one’s hopes for fanning the flames, there is always an answer in the form of furs comprising a cozy house in themselves. This astonishing snowscape by Charles Martin seems to imply some kind of Revolution! Continue reading

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DRESSED TO KILL—FORMAL ATTIRE IN GRAPHIC ART

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Salem Gold 1914;Anonymous;10 1/8″ x 7 3/8″;A,P; litho from Die Reklame

The Party Season is upon us; and we felt that showing vintage graphic art vignettes of serious party animals would be fun and edifying. In this instalment we’ll let the gentlemen have their moments (reserving, for New Year’s, the ladies in all their glory).

Our first dazzler above will serve to demonstrate how the thrilling blackness of formal attire can provide a feast for the eyes and heart within the scope of graphic design.  Continue reading

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PARIS, THAT GOLDMINE OF GRAPHIC ART!

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Pacha Noir 1890s;Jules-Alexandre Grun; 48″ X 34″; B+, L
About 1890, Parisian artist, Jules Cheret, discovered an efficient and low-cost technique for the production of lithographs, leading to a torrent of advertising graphics adding even more brilliance, delight and mystery to the City of Light.
 Here we have Cheret’s colleague, Jules-Alexandre Grun, pushing a club/restaurant; but, even more to the point, pushing the Montmartre district as the coolest place on Earth.

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PARIS 1926

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Paris Streets 1926;Charles Laborde;13″ x 16″;Engraving from portfolio,Rues et Visages de Paris

A most amazing engraved graphic that allows us to enjoy the excitement in the streets of this romantic city! Continue reading

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ZELDA ILLUMINATES OUR COLLECTION!

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This week, for the first time, our blog does not centre upon instances of graphic design redolent of an avant-garde of the early twentieth century. Instead we’re catching up with a current magazine which has delighted us for years now, namely, Zelda (“The Magazine of the Vintage Nouveau”). Named, in part, for Daisy, the unattainable, lethally dangerous heroine of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Era novel, The Great Gatsby (Daisy’s problematic energies being somewhat modelled on his wife, Zelda), this inspired publication is the labor of love of two bright and heart-warming New Yorkers, Diane Naegel (taken from us at a shockingly early age) and her partner, Don Spiro. (Diane’s legacy lives on thanks to her loving friends  devoted to what is involved in the sense of Zelda.)

Shown above, our ad, which we’re proud to add to the amazing contents.   Continue reading

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WHEN OCEANS WERE DEEP–PASSENGER SHIPS ON THE ATLANTIC

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 Allan Line Royal Mail  c.1910;To and From Canada;James S. Mann;40”x25”;A-,P

Before aviation hit its stride, but after sailing ships were retired, steamships (designed with great care) were the main link between Europe and North America. In this blog we’ll narrow the subject even further: ships carrying passengers to Canada from Britain, in the decades just before World War II–considered in view of the drama of their history and designs.

The Allan Line had been transporting passengers and products (prominently including mail) from Britain to Montreal since about 1820; but here we have a coal powered behemoth (18,000 tons) leaving Liverpool in the years directly before the company was taken over by Canadian Pacific Steamships in 1917. The design, especially as shown in the profile at the top of the poster, was eager to portray a sleek configuration with cosmopolitan black and red color statements. The design also juxtaposes the ship with lesser vehicles to imply that Allan was the smart line to deal with. The jaunty lettering for the letter C in the word Canada would evoke a going concern. (The data at the bottom indicates that the company was about emigration as much as shipping and round trips.)    Continue reading

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