SPEAKING OF PICTURES: A VINTAGE GRAPHICS BLOG

FRANCIS BACON AND HENRY MOORE ABSORBING TERROR

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Two British artists, Francis Bacon and Henry Moore, thriving within the mid-century avant-garde, have been linked in an exhibition (2014) organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Ashmolean Museum of London. Bacon’s bona fides as a loyalist of the grimmest wing of Surrealism have never been in doubt. But the tortured figuration of Henry Moore’s sculptures has tended to encourage more Stonehenge blissing than I-Mean-You-Baby stepping on expensive shoes. But you know, this extremely valuable exercise makes quite a powerful case for those temperamentally remote practitioners unwittingly setting up a correspondence by which to usefully explore a carnal hotbed of subversion and liberation. The photo above juxtaposes a Moore figure, undergoing not all that terrible deterioration, with a Bacon illustration of emergency-ward-level deformation for life. Continue reading

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A TALE OF SIX GREAT GRAPHIC COVERS

la_grande_dame_figaro_1Though it took longer to catch fire, the lithographic magazine has proved to be as capable of brilliant design and compelling timelessness as the vintage poster. Whereas the poster is limited to public wall display of a specific product or event, the magazine—particularly its cover—can be omnipresent and pertain to a vast range of enticing subjects, made even more timely by a striking cover image.

We ‘ve chosen to start with the oldest and most limited of our items, in a publication, from 1894, promoting a theater-piece pertaining to Falstaff. Why? Because its Arts and Crafts cover strategy, by art nouveau graphic design stalwart, Eugene Grasset maintains an avant-gardist context (still  operative) for a long forgotten occasion. Continue reading

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HOMAGE TO ART BY A GAMES MANUFACTURER

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Calendar graphics tend to be highly charged impressions, designed to add a dash of fun or awe to mundane meanderings—pin-ups and land/or cityscapes seem to lead the charge.  We have a calendar, for 1930, of fine offset renditions of linoleum block prints by Ernest W. Watson (1884-1969) that tends toward landscape but with a charming and thrilling difference. Titled, “A Calendar of Color Symphonies,” by the venerable board game producer, Milton Bradley Company, of Springfield, Massachusetts, the point was very much about lingering over the masterful color nuances of Watson’s designs, by virtue of the company’s first-rate lithography resources. The first illustration, for September/October, brings to us golden tones of autumn playing from the sky to the bridge and then to the land. Continue reading

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THE BIG TOP—SURPRISINGLY AND CHARMINGLY SUBDUED

yellowpants_2100922iWe’re looking forward to the upcoming Cirque du Soleil show in September. Having been thrilled by several of their shows, we know we can count on feats of dynamic marvel to send us home more alert than when we arrive. Continue reading

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A VINTAGE GRAPHIC TOUR THROUGH NEW CARS & OLD CARS!

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Electric cars are on the road right now and we have to pause and savor what a shift they bring our way. As you can see from the beautiful and critically acclaimed example shown here, namely, the Tesla Model S (100% electric), the configuration is quite compatible with the general range of recent vehicles redolent of handsome aerodynamics, the latest body finishes and a technical payload facilitating road worthiness and comfort. But the environmental factors hidden within the apparatus induce us to reconsider the traditional gas-driven automobiles  carrying a problematic liability comparable to smoking and its hazardous emissions.    Continue reading

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FORTUNE AND THE EXCITING BEAUTIES UNDERLYING SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

IMG_5082When it comes to vintage magazine graphics, we all tend to focus on the often breathtaking covers, and perhaps one or two ads and article illustrations that really pop. In conveying to you what amazing value inheres in such items (so generally seen to be tiny, in light of the bigger scheme of poster art), today we’ll concentrate on simply one issue of Fortune Magazine (March 1937) and unfold its cornucopia of design gems.  Continue reading

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THE RISE OF PAIN IN DREAMS—PHARRELL WILLIAMS GETS SERIOUS

IMG_4927Billy Wilder made movies (like Some Like It Hot) and collected modern classical paintings. Pharrell Williams makes songs like “Happy” and collects figurines that could not be called happy. In fact they could be called Surrealist, with all the toil that term invokes. But it’s an odd, frustratingly gloomy Surrealism; and it presses us to figure out why it should be so.

Our first instance might well be called “A Boy and his Dog,” with ironic wallop typical of this art/merchandise. (The show, curated by Williams, from which the material here is drawn, is currently off and running at Toronto’s Design Exchange). Continue reading

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MEDAL-WINNING OLYMPICS POSTERS !!

IMG_4763-002Olympics posters come to us as  a very mixed bag. Last week we were pleased to see  First Canadian Place, putting up some medal-worthy graphics for the non-stop sport center popping up in the foyer.  Continue reading

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AIRPLANE GRAPHICS—THE SKY’S THE LIMIT!

Hier Aujourd'hui      Hier/Aujourd’hui Air Show  1931 ;S.Peratt ;46″ x 61 1/2″ 

 In 1931, the composition in the foreground Aujourd’hui was very today (while the white, biplane figure was very yesterday). Time flies. But the mystery and romance of people travelling in the air remains a constant treasure of the modern era.  Continue reading

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WOMAN’S HOME COMPANION–DOMESTICITY WITH AN EDGE

womans-home-companion-april-1927“Woman’s Home Companion” is not a (magazine) name to immediately bring to mind an imperative of the mysterious side of life. Practical food ingredients, toothpaste, floor wax, Arch Preserver Shoes (allowing the little lady to get back on the golf links and become, as before, a “pal” to her husband) etc.—yes; the unknown—no.

But here, in the April 1927 issue, there is a graphic that trips you up! What could be more mundane than kids coming home from school? But artist, Marginel Wright  Barney, shoots for something else—a school of umbrellas as edgy as sharks, and as graceful as a  school of jellyfish!   Continue reading

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