SPEAKING OF PICTURES: A VINTAGE GRAPHICS BLOG

DOORS OPEN TORONTO—OPENING OUR EYES!

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Toronto’s recent building boom has galvanized, as never before those living here to try to understand the riches of design skills and efforts going into all this change. Consequently, the May weekend festival of visits to architectural highlights, called DOORS OPEN, has become a hugely attractive event. This year, Jack Diamond, a principal figure of the world renowned Diamond and Schmitt Architectural firm, delivered a brilliant account of his project resulting in the new Montreal Concert Hall (Maison Symphonique de Montreal)—an account that penetrated to the heart of architectural genius.

He prefaced his power point disclosure by noting that architects often slide into powerful surface appearances and underestimate the need to provide effective overall functioning. Only when both the science and the poetry dovetail do we come to architecture worthy of it name (a metier alert to architectonics, to, that is, the developmental functions of spaces informed by the gamut of human endeavors).

As to his Montreal structure, he spoke at length about the acoustic issues of a hall, covering very complex phenomena in a way that could clearly impact for a novice. A master of great musical venues (having constructed to acclaim the New Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, his vast store of scientific initiatives is complemented by attention to the social as well as to the artistic experience of the audience; and the satisfaction of the performing artists. Continue reading

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VINTAGE GRAPHIC ART AND GREAT EXPOS–MAKING SOMETHING BIG EVEN BIGGER

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Atherton; 30″ x 20″

Modern technology has enabled a proliferation of international events focussing upon excellence and the changes going on in current history. This poster graphic from one of the most memorably iconic attention getters deftly thrills to a cosmic event no one can afford to miss. Continue reading

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CONTACTING CONTACT (TORONTO’S PHOTO EXPO)

IMG_5787A picture’s worth a thousand words—especially as crafted by someone with eyes wide open. Continue reading

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TIGHT SPOTS—AS SEEN BY VINTAGE GRAPHICS

lowry4We’ve had a (3-point) shot of excitement and dashed hopes these days, courtesy of the basketball Raptors of Toronto (“WE THE NORTH”). Playoff fever is a phenomenon worth thinking about, at an historical juncture where professional team sports have, to a significant extent, taken over the role occupied by tragic theater in the distant past. Continue reading

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THE PERFECT SOFA–VERY MUCH A MATTER OF TOUCH!

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On these pages we usually draw attention to remarkably finished products of design, not being conversant with or privy to the construction of such delights. We recently had the windfall (reminding us of the opportunity to observe the artisans of HERMES at the Design Exchange last September) to savor the craft of upholstery, due to fortuitously reconnecting with a long lost dear friend from the past, Paul Schofield, a true master of the many outcomes of fabrics. Continue reading

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BUILT TO BLAZE—POCHOIR DESIGNS ON FIRE!

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Apres le Diner dans le Parc 1924 Gazette du Bon Ton[GBT]; Andre Marty

We’ve long been ardent admirers of the hand-colored art deco magic of pochoirs, especially those images displaying haute couture for sale. These works were the product of a small number of graphic design giants who were gifted with the instinct to devise and produce moments revealing infinite depths of persons who might be assumed to have no depth at all. An area of this sublimity we’re until now left untouched is that in which smoking cigarettes stands out as a measure of chic and indescribable apprehension.

Here the heavenly attired lady needs a break that the great parkland cannot quite provide. Continue reading

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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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