SPEAKING OF PICTURES: A VINTAGE GRAPHICS BLOG

CANADIAN PACIFIC CRUISE SHIPS VIA NORMAN WILKINSON

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Our treat today is to luxuriate with not only one zone where brilliant graphic design is a given–namely, Canadian Pacific marketing–but a second powerhouse, namely, the masterful, Norman Wilkinson (1878-1971), one of the treasures responsible for the great stature of British Rail posters (and also a brilliant watercolorist and optics genius–devising camouflage for British ships during World War I).

Wilkinson was most memorable in mustering landscape and seascape atmospheres that went to the heart of the rapturous powers of panoramic space. His commission (in the 1920s) to illustrate an extensive booklet spotlighting the Canadian Pacific fleet of ocean liners manages, within the constraints of small size and offset printing, to evoke reveries of those moments of the elements taking over which we’ve all been touched by, however briefly.

Here we have the Empress of France making its way to the Atlantic by way of the St. Lawrence River. The publication wants prospective passengers to understand that a significant percentage of the voyage from Montreal to Europe benefits from the placid waters of that river. This nocturnal moment of vintage celebration has been provided with the serenity to absorb the depths and quiet sparkle of the vast night. The craft’s signature gold smokestacks basking in moonlight emit a signal of “all is well.”   Continue reading

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MANY GRAPHIC SMILES ACROSS CANADA!

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Manitoba Calling Nov,1946;Anonymous;9 1/2″ x 6 1/4″;A,P;16pp

Enlivening the dead of winter, here comes our heat wave in the form of many Canadian graphics to warm our hearts. This excitement coincides with the unprecedented Canadian graphics gallery that launched yesterday, February 2.

Wouldn’t you know it?! Some of the most absorbing images and concepts emerge from our long-ago home, Manitoba, the heart of the Continent! Here we have the first of three instances of the graphically apt, funny and poignant radio station promotions, called Manitoba Calling. Included in this issue—over and above a glimpse, on the cover, of a world where a ten-year-old would be crucial to protecting children on the way to school from urban traffic—is a report on all the summer visitors to the CKY studio there were, from the US Midwest and the Prairies. Also included, with a muddy little photo, is a report on the T Eaton Company’s Saturday morning Good Deed Club, broadcast live from 10:30 to 11.  Continue reading

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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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