SPEAKING OF PICTURES: A VINTAGE GRAPHICS BLOG

PATTERN DESIGN WHEN THE GOING WAS ESPECIALLY GOOD

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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

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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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THE MOVIES MAKING THEIR MOVES INTO THE ART GALLERY

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The hand-crafted, artisanal  ways of fine art have undergone many changes over the past century. The most drastic line of departure has had to do with the defining presence of the era being motion–physical and, more importantly, conscious. Thus an alert contemporary artist like Tim Deverell, in his composition, The Offspring (2014),painstakingly lays down a canebrake of possible specific slowdowns while illuminating an overall complex play of fluid directions and their tonal shadings. This kind of work makes a difference, a very subtle difference.

But other kinds of subtleties in that same invitation allow of a startlingly different vigor of disclosure.   Continue reading

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MID-CENTURY ARTISTS’ TEXTILES—FINE ARTISTS GETTING DOWN TO PATTERNS WITH POP!

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Pop artist, Andy Warhol, was always about the pregnant vignette. Near the beginning of his career he availed himself of a windfall showcase in the form of a marketing angle conceived before the Second World War but only hitting its stride in the years immediately following, namely, textiles for various occasions crowned by original designs.

The pattern shown above, from 1955 and based on a proposal for a Christmas card in 1951, benefits from the repetition to capture the fabulous energies of the circus. Also, as with many other entries to this popular career blessing, the marriage of mass, practical objects and design inspiration, captures, in a very special way, the glorious energies of modern life itself. The epigraph–consisting of a Ruth Reeves statement in 1946–of the catalogue for the Toronto show of these largely hidden and forgotten gems (brought forward by Target Gallery, London) is remarkable: “It is my personal opinion that fabric design rightfully belongs in the category of the Fine Arts… as an art it is just as important as good architecture, and certainly is more closely associated with our everyday living than are paintings.”     Continue reading

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VINTAGE GRAPHICS ALERT TO MUSIC : Second Cut

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Mundial Dance 1913;F. Dumat;14″ x 10 5/8″;A,P, Song Sheet

This little music sheet with the big color component uncovers that vein of lyrical delight whereby the power is increased in being closely shared by others. Dance to the music, indeed! Continue reading

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VINTAGE GRAPHICS ALERT TO MUSIC: First Cut

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La Chanson au Volant 1934;Charles Roussel;14″ x 10 5/8″;A,P, Song Sheet

Those of you who do dance clubs or otherwise access DJ incitements might have noticed how the aural powers lead the way to tempering tactile and optical presence. Bad old rock and roll always knew it was going somewhere not only different but better, not only fun but complicated. Many graphic artists, even those working before the rock era, had been captivated by the transformational powers of music. Here we don’t want to get into complications but to simply marvel at the cornucopia of instances of music tugging visual design into a homage to what’s afoot!

This lithographic song sheet jumps on the chance to link highway dynamics and song! Continue reading

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DEBORAH COLKER’S MIX–A MODERN DESIGN ADVENTURE

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For decades now, modern dance has been all about accelerating and enlarging the powers of motion. Many choreographers have readily and tellingly produced countless instances of rocketry and explosiveness in the form of bodies in extreme circumstances. The hunt has been on, almost interminably, for conveying the conviction that life has begun to migrate significantly from the ways of the past and that dance holds a key to a new world stemming from dynamics as trumping substance.

Realizing that the chamber/balletic context of such a bid was coming up short, Brazilian choreographer, Deborah Colker, has set to work upon an idiom not merely resembling athletics and circus entertainments but fully usurping those fields.

The first photo gives us a quartet playing across a wall-climbing apparatus displaying elite muscular athleticism and elite circus graceful precision.    Continue reading

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HIGH HOPES–VINTAGE GRAPHIC ART WITH A VIEW TO MOUNTAINS

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Having just spent some quality time in the Rockies, we are more than ever appreciative of the strong impact imparted by lithos driven by high country! There are so many implications deriving from that thrust upward that we have to be alert in not passing it by as a merely well-known (cliché) form of beauty and power.

For instance, as to the images above, I think you might agree that it is the coordination of many features which provides the full value so often covered by “mountain awesomeness.” Vintage graphic design inhabits and creates in view of that ensemble.   Continue reading

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CELEBRATING WITH VILLEMOT OUR 200TH VINTAGE GRAPHICS BLOG!

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George Bon Salle’s superb study published this year, Embracing an Icon, the Posters of Bernard Villemot , giving us the complete graphic design works of Bernard Villemot, deserves a second consideration–on top of the account given on April 28. For that reason, and for Villemot, being such a key player in launching our business, it seems most appropriate to celebrate our 200th graphic design blog by means of oohing and aahing about fantastic instances of graphic art which we had never been aware of until George produced his book.
Coming out of a recent revelation in the form of the Calgary Stampede–where larger-than-life riders attract most of the attention–the image above, where the ghostly horse upstages the clerk-like rider, speaks volumes to us. Deploying a rather constrained palette, Villemot alerts us to the primal, unadorned steed being something to stand up and cheer for!

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CONTEMPORARY COLOR IN YOUR FACE, IN YOUR HEART!

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In the course of a year there come into view many elite efforts, ranging from graphic  art to architecture. We pay due homage to the heart and wit going into this range of mountainous delights; but as urbanites continually in the midst of special accomplishment verging on the uncanny we readily suppose that the crème de la crème is our business and not for those who live in the hinterland.

That is not a particularly bad thing to carry around, but it tends to, if not overlook completely other fields of special endeavor, give them short shrift—a carelessness which arbiters of cool and chic do not even begin to realize how severely the peril therewith places one. It is one thing to thrill in being in on a sea-change of sensibility and creative power. It is something else to factor in that most of the population will never take this feast to heart.

Imagine, then, our enchantment with an incident–within one of the most egregious jags of preening in the spotlight of the in-the-know, namely, the annual Toronto Luminato Arts Festival–coming out of left field which sets its sights squarely upon that dilemma of disaffection.    Continue reading

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