SPEAKING OF PICTURES: A VINTAGE GRAPHICS BLOG

SPLENDID ANONYMITY–VINTAGE POSTER GEMS MINUS THE ARTIST’S NAME

Picture 1105

Virtuoso artists tend to leave their calling cards. The waves they make are generally very traceable to a specific source–themselves. Often the personality involved becomes an integral part of the impact of the work. The economics as well as the ego of craftsmanship would seem to call for that high profile.

In the trade of vintage poster art, however, it was often advantageous not to sign a tableau. Most of the most productive posterists were under contract to produce the works of a specific publishing firm and thereby they were forced to forego working for another publisher. Many of them got around that constriction by leaving their (illegal) works for printers, other than those paying them premiums for staying in line, without a suable name. (Another ruse was to use a string of pseudonyms.)

As we’ll proceed to show, there was nothing second rate about much of the poster output missing a creator’s name. Our first instance is not only fabulously composed and colored; but it shows a vigorous talent for propaganda, if not fascinating, historically arresting jingoism. It’s the era of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, and the imperial imperative is at full tide.   Continue reading

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JOYS OF DINING AS SEEN BY VINTAGE GRAPHIC ART

la _framboisette

A priority that rocks across the board is the enjoyment of food and drinks. A variation on that theme is being transported by a sterling restaurant. So much more than satisfying fare is entailed in a successful commercial dining experience. And consideration of those other fascinating currents is what we really want to explore here along lines of alert graphic design (which has, come to think of it, an affinity to alert restaurant design).

We begin with a captivating moment wherein a lady on an excursion by train cannot resist prolonging a brief stopover, after seeing that the venue includes an antidote to a crowded, confined, perhaps noisy vehicle. She’d rather be having a nice beverage in a congenial room designed to lift one to a higher plane.

 

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THE TEENS (1910-1920), CAPTURED IN GRAPHIC ART

Pochoir Skiers

The period of time stretching from 1910 to 1920 is remarkable for its enduring a devastation, or at least a huge arrest, of the excitements of omnipresent change. Most of the major departures from conventional rational life–in scientific and philosophical thought, the arts and design–were bubbling by that time. A priority of uncluttered, lithe and startling forces and structures was in the air. But also gaining ground were stolid resentments and material treasure hunts going back to Spanish galleons and even to the Dark Ages. The most deadly, widespread war of all the conflicts up to that moment asserted a hegemony of panic and simplism, against which pacesetters and the young at heart had to steel themselves.

Graphic art was a foremost means of attractively inducing and maintaining an imperative to change soon and change much. Our first (pochoir) image gives us all the priorities mentioned above and also perhaps the most thrilling and far reaching game-changer, uncanny motion. Motion daring to challenge dead weight. Notice how up-to-our-minutes the sense of clean lines (streamlines) takes charge here.   Continue reading

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THE YIN AND THE YANG OF VINTAGE POSTER ART!

proton

We’re bullish on a new movie just arrived in town, namely, Hou Hsiao Hsien’s The Assassin! The star/ protagonist is named Yinniang and her story is all about Yin and Yang. Being a professional killer you’d have to say she’s somehow bulked up with Yang–that mover and shaker fuel. But her story is all about having it both ways–Yin (openness to wider energies) being very much a part of her make-up.

As it happens the world of vintage graphics seriously deals with (though not in as many words) Yin, Yang–and their blends. I thought it would be interesting to attend to those items in our collection running with the keynotes; and those items running with the syntheses.

Plenty of Yin in this fabulous promotion (by the very special Marcello Dudovich) for a skin cream putting one very close to Mother Nature.   Continue reading

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THAT 1940s LOOK AND HEART!

Vogue Nov 15, 1939

The 1940s brought to light, as with earlier decades and epochs, wonders of invention and tantalizing glimpses of sensibility teetering upon really breaking loose. Perhaps because that moment of the forties came to be pummelled by war of unprecedented ferocity and regrouping of unprecedented complexity, its purchase upon a new world took on special dark, ironic and ardent qualities. Therefore, in our little survey of the time as shown by vintage graphic design an overriding question will be, “Did that distressed period derive special traction in its participating in the ongoing drama of the new?”

Surrounded by a whimsical accessory and a slate of routes–débutantes; New York Season–rushing to conjure away debilitating fears, this iconic figure by the ever-alert Eric pulls herself together to the point of clear-eyed engagement with a world of rampant hostility. Her jungle cat garment helps convey the situation of one’s time left being acutely delicious and dramatic.    Continue reading

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WEEGEE–FILLING OUT BOTH SIDES OF GRAPHIC DISCOVERY

weegee_simply_add_boiling_water_1937_d5479224h

bally-lotus-valentine

By great good fortune we have, this very week, started to come to grips with Bernard Villemot (1911-1989), in accordance with our Poster of the Month for November, one of the most patrician graphic designers; and Arthur Fellig (stumbled upon by us at the Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto), better known as Weegee (1899-1968), one of the most plebeian figures in the field of mass marketing. Whereas Villemot was a master of gracious handsomeness and beauty (wafting us away from our doldrums and toward ethereal heights), Weegee, a New York tabloid photographer in the 1930s and 1940s, was equally effective (in the course of marketing his own unique skills) in confronting us with an aspect we need to take into account, namely, the dark and ugly side of life.

Notice the piquant irony of the first photo, “Simply Add Boiling Water.” Not one, but two, points of of signage (the second being “Hygrade Frankfurters”) add a special glint to the scene, in turn grotty and glorious.   Continue reading

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FEASTS ARE GOOD FOR YOU

olio_radino

The autumn time of year we’re now well underway with tends to be a time for enjoying rich foods and beverages. Here we go, then, with some culinary graphic designs which convey, with real panache, the gusto of dining!

Gino Boccasile was not endowed with a particularly healthy system; but his sensual art work constitutes a study of emotion trumping molecules. We have to go beyond North America to derive graphic cheering for the poetry of food. And Italian zeal for a lovely meal might be the height of this wise madness. We’re clearly going beyond vegetables and extra virgin olive oil here, and it is the rendering of the marvelous central figure which conveys a universe of simple delight.  Continue reading

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THE POWERS OF SOLITUDE IN VINTAGE GRAPHIC ART

reval

The bountiful graphic instalment of lithographic marketing tends to be a blazingly public affair. Much of the stream of vignettes to that effect involves figures more or less directly addressing the public concerning the virtues of the product or service. Moreover, a large percentage of the arrangements of the enthusing in these works entails a sizeable quorum of devotees for the object. Endorsement by whole families or hordes in the streets or elsewhere produce a bolt of energy that captures many folks all on the same page.

But there are graphic strategies–less numerous than those just enumerated–which show us a single figure on the page. And those quiet moments are meant not just for recluses, but for all of us as carrying a dimension mysteriously galvanized by savoring a phenomenon one-to-one.

Our image here, by that far from shrinking violet, Gino Boccasile, directs the market to something purely great in its own singularity.     Continue reading

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PATTERN DESIGN WHEN THE GOING WAS ESPECIALLY GOOD

IMG_3805

Our first instalment of enjoying textiles illustrated by major 20th century artists had to do with unlikely figures–Picasso and Warhol–doing justice to a rather obscure endeavor. (You don’t think of either of those luminaries avoiding the limelight.) In this second survey we’ll look at the output of far less celebrated figures who, one could say, evince a real gusto for unheralded design performance.

As early as 1911, Raoul Dufy established a link to the concerns of fashion designer Paul Poiret and, as such, embarked on parading deco graphic design as something quite distinct from his Fauve and School of Paris headliners. Our first pattern image, “Marronniers,” [Chestnuts], deploys Dufy’s genius for breezy prospects, but here thousand miles from career coups. Continue reading

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PORING OVER A MARVELLOUS MAP

Hudsons-Bay-Map-blog-size

Hudson Bay Company Map (c.1950); Stanley Turner;20″ x 25 1/2″, A-, L

In the early years of Canada’s history the Hudson’s Bay trading company was omnipresent. What better way to reveal its starry array than by a map with illustrations of the various properties suffusing the geography? Here we present this gem in toto and then in various close-ups. Over and above that situation of huge market share there is the graphic design brilliance of Stanley Francis Turner (1883-1953), showing the land and the business as a feast in many ways! Continue reading

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