SPEAKING OF PICTURES: A VINTAGE GRAPHICS BLOG

REPEATED MOTIFS IN VINTAGE GRAPHIC POSTERS

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D. H. Evans Fashion Wise 1950s;Arpad Elfer;30″ x 40″;A-, Silkscreen

We live in a fairly solid context (animal; vegetable; mineral); but we live in something else, not so easily enumerated. To do justice to this latter range of experience graphic designers have hit upon enhancement of the “real” subject by injecting it with repetitive forms or motifs. These riffs, as the Surrealist design above (with its swarm of candle flames) demonstrates, set in relief the “more real” which we all inhabit but seldom acknowledge. Those orange quasi-gems bring to us the dimension of eerie and sustaining zip we all live for. The polka dot sprays on the girls’ housecoats constitute a domestic norm–“fashion wise,” to be sure–but requiring the wisdom of the really strange to seal the deal.   Continue reading

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VINTAGE SPANISH GRAPHICS–DRAMA TO THE MAX!

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Sevilla 1925;Juan Miguel;61″ x 41″; B+,L

Vintage Spanish lithographic design was not so much about pioneering into the lithographic, technical inventions of the late 19th century nor was it about the audacious historical reflections of that era, which were very much to the fore in the poster art of France, Germany, Britain, Belgium, Holland and Italy. But its genius lay in displaying the sense of  rather dark drama intrinsic to Spanish experience, as enhanced by the work of superb lithographic printers.

A major subject of Spanish graphic art was the promotion of annual spring celebrations—loosely coinciding with the Easter season and celebrating both religious and secular mainstays of Spanish life. In the stunning instance of such work above, the secular excitements of music, dance, feasting, horsemanship and bullfighting tend to eclipse the religious aspects. But the Giralda Cathedral of Seville looms large regarding all such events in that city. The magnificence of modelling, attire and setting conveys a special energy not to be found in the graphic work of other countries. Continue reading

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THOSE WHO WORK WITH THEIR HANDS, AS SEEN BY VINTAGE LITHOGRAPHIC POSTERS

the-prairie-provinces-of-canadaThe Prairie Provinces of Canada Canadian Pacific Railway; c. 1920;Anonymous; 9” x 15 ½”; B+, L

In the rather delirious dash to shake up the heavens, vintage graphic design has tended to fix upon sterling, mysterious glamor and one-of-a-kind speeding. What, then, it has tended to, if not ignore, marginalize, is workaday exertions. We’re in the territory of by and large shaking things up, not producing the mere necessities!

But hold on, now! We aim to point out that those designers tackling the salt of the earth in a wide range of promotions were not unmindful of simple integrity having an aura of the unpredictable. Our first image does not forget to register big, daunting skies as well as hands-on chores putting the earth to work. The towering farmer seems more about the special qualities of a pioneer than the prosaic food industry. Continue reading

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LUCKY PUPPIES: MAN’S GREATEST FRIEND AS SEEN BY VINTAGE GRAPHICS

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Ambition Realized 1940s;Eugene Iverd;11 ½” x 8 ½”;A, P

Dogs come to us in graphic art along two major runways. The first emphasizes their sweet hearts and what that means to their owners. That alone detonates many catchy moments by which to draw viewers to both the monetary and the momentous interests taking place. The second range of power entailed in the ways of dogs  concerns how vividly handsome their presence can be.

Our first vintage image goes back to the era of World War II and the sense of warm hearts thrilling to heights of affection!  Continue reading

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ITALY, SHOWING THAT IT HAS WHAT IT TAKES!

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Touring Club Italiano c.1915;Giuseppe Riccobaldi;7 1/2″ x 6 1/2″; A-,P

At the heart of many Italian vintage graphics you will find a special fluency for the sizzle of motion. Italian designers tend to be geniuses in capturing the magic of the kinetic heart of life.

For instance, in the cover shown above the instance of hot wheels is endowed with a marvellous circus trick (replete with a flaming baton). But, over and above that, there is the golden girl’s body language and enraptured, proud and a bit aggressive facial expression, There is a breathtaking twist carrying through her whole body!   Continue reading

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PHOTOGRAPHIC BOOSTS WITHIN VINTAGE POSTERS AND GRAPHICS

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En route pour la Suisse 1935;Herbert Matter;40″ x 25″; B+, L

When we began to search for and sell vintage posters we were adamantly opposed to photography getting a look-in. So thrilled were we with the fabulous roster of illustrators we had just encountered, we couldn’t see mere verisimilitude as in the same league at all. But as the years went by, we encountered photographic imagery that led to the same magic universe comprising blue-chip illustration. (Now we especially keep close track of the annual Contact Photo Festival which spreads forth in many locales in the heart of Toronto.)

Here we have the always superb Herbert Matter’s discovery and spot on perspective upon a dour and canny Switzerland being as at heart, an uncanny charmer. The sharp focus upon those bricks and snowy crags gives us a lesson on austere optics having a wild side. The roadway is, or should be, in itself, one of the Wonders of the World!   Continue reading

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SPRING, THE SEASON OF ROMANCE AND LOVE, AS SEEN BY VINTAGE GRAPHIC ART

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Le Nid de Pinsons 1922 GBT;Andre Marty;9 1/2″ x 7″;A-,P

When, after a severe, austere and long winter, you witness the spurt of the onset of the leaves and blossoms and the return to basking in the warm sunlight, you can’t help feeling that there is something unusually fine about the spring season! Our focus for this week also exhibits the range of love and how acutely vintage graphic art relishes that range of feeling that goes to the heart of kinetic fullness.

The pochoir shown above, by that most far-seeing of the Paris art deco pochoir roster, Andre Marty, brilliantly chooses to feature the earthy simplicity for which the season is beloved. In giving their hearts to a tiny beast, the couple cut through, in a heartbeat, millennia of hierarchical assumptions. Spring does work magic, if you allow it to be what it is.  Continue reading

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ODYSSEO BY CAVALIA—IN THE REALM OF KUBRICK’S SPACE ODYSSEY

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The Montreal-based spectacle concern, Cavalia, derives from a schism of sorts within the vastly successful Cirque du Soleil. Whereas the latter favors moments of incredible athleticism and contortion rather loosely bound to whimsical narrative, Cavalia is about very coherent fusion of dynamic instances to reveal an earthy cumulative wellspring. The performing horses constituting its most direct element are, in fact, only the most readily comprehended calling card for a multi-media cyclotron carrying us to depths of the sensual avant-garde.

The photo above entails bat-out-of-hell thundering motion, a human figure playing in concert with such dash; and the developmental elements of darkness, focused light and water. Continue reading

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DEFINITIVE GLAMOR–GEORGE AND JEANNE BON SALLE’S CATALOGUE RAISONNE OF THE POSTERS OF BERNARD VILLEMOT

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The Poster Art Library; New York (2015) 320 pp. ; 12 1/2″ x 9 1/4″ ;

Beginning a career of lithographic poster art in the mid-1930s, as he did, Bernard Villemot(1911-1989) would have seemed to be handicapped in being underway just as the golden age of the metier was winding down. However, being from a family of very successful and affluent graphic designers, Villemot was, at an early age, exposed to those perennial avant-garde implications of that business which would counteract any sense of facile obsolescence.

The sensual priorities so salient in the cover choice above speak to a non-rational avant-garde in general and the work of painter, Henri Matisse in particular. Villemot was, from the get-go, aflame with the evergreen issues of sexy glamor as a selling point and a comprehensive vocation. Prose and poetry in tandem as a double-barrelled intervention within middling modern commercial life. Continue reading

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VINTAGE BEVERAGE POSTERS (PART TWO)—LIGHTNING STRIKING ALL OVER THE PLACE!

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Perroy c.1945;Unsigned (Martin Peikert?);50″ x 35″;A-, Japan paper

Last week we settled in with the peppy wit and graciousness of the designs of French champagne and cognac promotions. This week we’re on a grand tour of the Continent looking for something a bit different from that.

Swiss craftsmanship can be as driven and divine as that emanating from France; and the casual elegance of this wine attraction well attests to that situation. But whereas the promotions shown last week tend to be exclusively about the homeland (outsiders paying homage as pilgrims), here the striking (this being Switzerland, having nothing to do with strikes) farm laborer–perhaps the owner’s daughter preparing to take over the business–looks straight at the whole world (and finds it to be bountifully satisfying). All the lithographic technique and design artistry is about exporting the good life as understood in the mid-twentieth century.   Continue reading

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