After years of sustaining a series of vintage design displays, we’re returning to the first instance (posted back on November 4,2014). But here we’re not about the witty and dazzling deco cover and the fascinating, quirky business concerns (such as an ad promoting tenancy in the just-completed Empire State Building); but instead a “filler” insert of pastel renderings of Alabama steel mills, by a long-forgotten artist/ designer, Roderick Mackenzie (1865-1941). Over and above the five remarkable, large-scale litho renditions acting as a speed bump to busy wheeler-dealers, we find the artist himself, and his highs and lows, to be a rich disclosure of vicissitudes of the career of an artist in early modern secular society.

Our first instance, “Three Bessemer Converters,” reminds us of the play of light and texture to be seen in the marine paintings of William Turner (1775-1851). Here the dynamics of light derive from fiery industrial processes rather than the earlier strategy involving sunlight, ocean and water crafts.   Continue reading

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“Place Your Bets, Make Your Play” Graphic Art Takes a Flyer on Gambling!!!

Pochoir Bancohttp://www.idesirevintageposters.com/pochoir-banco-1922-gbt.html

The affinities between vintage illustrative art and the multifaceted business of gambling boil down to the volatility of the practise of eking out a living against severe odds. Turning a decent buck or franc from going to the heart of excitement especially pertains to a shot of daring not common at all. Therefore the sky’s the limit in celebrating this wild and wonderful world! Of the many graphic designs depicting various casinos, racetracks, lottery posts etc, a constant is the high level of well-being in the players and the beauty and liveliness of the venues. (Of course there are disasters along this form of skyrocketing. But the priority in this field is to show the poise and wonderment of the risk-takers and their territory.)

So we begin with a wealthy player, playing a game, Banco, which the House totally stage-manages. The faint presence of the graphic quality captures the abstraction of the seeker who is very remote from us and from everyone. There is an aura of mystery about someone so attracted to a kind of disappearance.  Continue reading

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IMG_2364 Toronto does not have canals. But fairly recently it has shaked its butts to pile up some impressive load of canal boat decor. The trend along alleys to the north of hipster central is of the sweet and simple genre. But given the harshness of the hardware withal it constitutes a lively reminder that powerhouse history needs to attend to its sweet spots.

Being as simple as our pic#1 is not as easy as you might assume. Continue reading

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For a pretty low-key phenomenon, visiting a beach serves up a startling range of priorities and presences. Vintage graphic design had been enlisted into maintaining a critical edge for the commercial interests of the sites; and thereby we reap the benefits of skilful imagination teasing out special dimensions of the material settings.

Our first selection, by that master of delicious times, Bernard Villemot, vividly brings the reminder that the Basque landscape boasts not only chic and buoyant venues in which to loll around, but also, often in close proximity with one another, state-of-the-art golf courses. Here the contrasts between the playgrounds accommodate bringing our way rich chromatic ranges to impel our visit.     Continue reading

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Some time ago we visited friends who have a working farm near Roblin, Manitoba. Their life is very different from ours, but through the years we’ve all happily shared (largely by mail from the Post Office) the best of what we had to offer. Today we’d like to convey the special magic of farm matters by way of old print photos, and then by way of farm scenes appearing in our vintage graphics.

Though that combine harvester takes up most of the room in our first image, it also showcases the earthy spaciousness of its situation. The two of us were merely agog while Duncan, the real thing, tried to give us an idea of what such an apparatus could do. Here was a workplace closely bound to the elements!    Continue reading

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One of the knocks perennially flying around, when it comes to phenomena of art, is that it fails to touch those making up the “normal” world. Most of us can be moved by attractive gardens, furniture, cars etc. But there are productions, ranging from paintings to movies, which don’t make any serious sense to the vast majority of the 7 billion people on earth trying to make sense of their life.

The history of art has not exactly endeared itself to those not deliriously fond of the productions of art. In fact, a Cold War has not only become entrenched; it has fed the egos of myriad arts practitioners. Solitary genius has been the go-to disposition.

But in that modern era bubbling in the 19th century and raging in the 20th, practitioners of crafts—architecture, for instance; fashion design, for instance—have found that their imperative of “practical” design has taken up fundamental factors of sensibility hitherto the exclusive regime of artists. Along this avenue of change, territorial jealousies with their gratifying hostility have remained at a fairly virulent level. However, increasingly in the 21st century, the range of fertile stimulation has expanded, and the consequences of this breach of the logjam are thrilling to behold.

At Toronto’s Harborfront Art Gallery at this time, an exhibition rigorously confronts the big surprise that is art works doubling as décor and explicit profit centres. And you know, vintage lithographic posters and illustrations have been plying these waters for many decades now!

Let’s begin our little probe with some snaps of that remarkable installation down by the Lake. The photo above, showing skills with paper, line and color, involves weight and stability. It also comprises a very serviceable aspect of corporate or residential décor.   Continue reading

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Vintage graphic designers could ramp up, by way of the factor of color, the attraction of a presentation to be sold. Moreover, they could and did confine the color palette to one dominant hue, to introduce special effects. Film posters were most at liberty to use that route, by virtue of the color designs of the film itself.

It’s a range of communication which can be easily overlooked or at least underestimated; and here we finally get around to looking at it at some length. Accordingly, we’ll start with a vintage movie poster design in accordance with the powerful visual resources of director/writer, David Lynch, specifically his great tone poem, Blue Velvet (1986). The latter is one bluesy rush of sensibility, and the dominant title word portends the rough roads having been hard-wired to desires of soft, velvety payoffs.  Continue reading

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Pan Bourjoishttp://www.idesirevintageposters.com/small-format-gems-bourjois-1928.html

Paul Poiret (1879-1944) is a name, like Coco Chanel, steeped in high-life Parisian design. But whereas the latter name endures, the former does not. And yet Poiret was a fashion pacesetter whose audaciously loose-fitting, streamline presences for wealthy and glamorous luminaries of the City of Light introduced the remarkably fertile and influential trend of what eventually came to be known as Art Deco. His acute sense of where history was going was not, alas, matched by business acumen, and his fifteen or so year reign of generating promising newness (in association with the great Paris graphic designers of the era), going far beyond surface matters, skidded to a halt in the late 1920s.

Capitalizing on his range of contacts, he launched a fervent project, unfortunately not a financial success, in hopes of turning the tide of sad tidings. This was to consist of a coffee-table book survey of the great Paris retail palaces, as conveyed by some of those aforementioned graphic artists as afforded the luxury of top-of-the-line paper stock and awe-inspiring lithography from the great vintage poster concern, Devambez, as packaged by the peerless bindery, Magnier Frères.

Our first true-litho example, shown above, tells us immediately that we are in the presence of small-format (14″ x 10 ½”) advertising art which actually surpasses most of the blue-chip poster lithography of the era. Bi-plane soaring vision by virtue of a Place Vendome perfume and cosmetics oasis!    Continue reading

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Toronto Raptors’ shooting guard, Demar DeRozan, is a lyrically skilled athlete who, many times this year, carried the team to victory with remarkable ball control and shooting accuracy from all angles. But, over the past 3 years now, his performances in the first round playoff series have been remarkably dismal, he becoming someone we can’t recognize and don’t want to watch. The passionate daring of regular a melts away and he seems to have almost entirely lost his way. We’re hoping, still, that he can rise above this voodoo, pronto!

Whatever the outcome, this malaise lends focus to the crucial role of passion in high-level sports. Accordingly, we delve into our sports graphics anew, with a view to those designs having been galvanized by that question of emotional intensity spearheading lofty and hard-won skills. The Tour de France (dealt with in the image above) is an extreme test of Stamina, skill, drive and courage which aptly opens our proceedings about the passionate side of sports and the dark pit of risk and pain which all elite athletes must traverse.    Continue reading

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Leonetto Cappiello (1875-1942), an Italian artist who came into his own as a harbinger of the joys of French industrial products, brought into his adoptive homeland a range of figuration and color display which bridged the gap between revolutionary sensibilities and down-to-earth pleasures. A major characteristic of a Cappiello design is the action of figures taking wing, their arabesque features readily culminating (over the years) in motion with edge more recognizably “modern.” Being a child of the Art Nouveau era, he would, with great panache, link products to that premium upon organic sensibility in the air at that moment, lifting off and away from classical rational stuffy doldrums.

The work shown here, with its treasures of the vineyards, is an instance of being right up his alley!   Continue reading

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