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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Sometimes I feel that, despite birds’ being a common fixture of our world, we’re only beginning to get into a disposition to really appreciate them. It’s true that birdwatchers and the like have been very fond of these creatures for centuries; and they’ve long been cherished as food. But nevertheless, have they been well understood from the perspective of flight?

As the world has turned, the phenomena of motion have begun to take precedence over instances of stasis. (This turn coincides with the advent of lithographic design.) If you settle your gaze on the kind of motion they’re uniquely expert at, then those feathery projectiles become something else again; and that something else puts them way up there, even while so many of them are becoming extinct.

The type of bird shown here is not likely to disappear, being a real survivor. But over and above this, there is its being a masterful flyer, thrillingly overshadowing one of the client’s floating palaces. The carefree plunge of this lively protagonist becomes an ideal of grace, mystery and adventure to which prospective customers would flock!    Continue reading

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Normandie Cover 1935;Paul Iribe;12″x 9 1/2″;Booklet ; 26pp

The architecture of cruise ships comes in many sizes, styles and levels of competence and inspiration. Graphic design master, Paul Iribe (1883-1935), way back in 1934, became so galvanized, despite being close to the end of his life, by the entry of that singular beauty, the Normandie, that he created one of the greatest small-format design gems the world has ever seen.

His promotional project constituted a culmination of the art deco invention happily showering Paris for a couple of decades before, an output for which Iribe was a major player.

Streamline form, breathtaking color and texture and perfect proportions became the magnet attaching him to his commission with singular resolve and inspiration. (Iribes’ being a great furniture designer, lover of fashion icon Coco Chanel and a designer for Hollywood movies in the 1920s constituted other significant factors.)

The image above shows the cover of this substantial booklet. Let’s note right at the outset that the illustrative motif showing the way is an almost astronomical spaciousness.   Continue reading

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There are graphic designs the touch of which is well worth considering in detail. Whereas many artists have developed lithographic nuancing in the form of chromatic gradations and air brushing to create resonant, even mysterious, atmospheres, a few others have chosen to make waves by way of sharply etched, frozen-in-time configurations. Looking closely at how they do it seems to me time well spent.

The American graphic above is a study in composure. Not only that, its mood evokes a weight of alienation from widespread actions. This is a figure and a situation at odds with the haphazard shuffle, due to some recognition that slowing things way down best meets the exigencies of nature itself. Thus the landscape assumes an eerie distribution and an even more eerie coloration. The peacocks accompany another richly pristine creature, not quite of the world in general. Here the revolutionary intuition of Art Nouveau is both deliciously charming and disconcertingly severe.     Continue reading

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An Epochal Transformation within the Covers of a Vintage Magazine

IMG_081416 ” x 12″

The long-standing deluxe French magazine, L’Illustration, was wont to pull out the stops in gifting its readers in the Christmas edition a feast for the mind and eyes. The edition of 1923 (consisting of 250 pages) went even farther than that, by rushing into the breach a spate of very advanced (art deco inspired) advertisements drastically countering an illustrated cover and articles still catering to agrarian priorities of a hundred years before!

In the instance above we have a very Parisian and very art deco ad, for a furniture store, by one of the best designers of the golden age of graphics, namely, Rene Vincent. The furniture shown is bold,  laying it onexpansive and geometrically powerful. The women’s clothes are accordingly light as a feather. The women themselves are clearly a breed apart from the dimming Belle Époque. Talk about Christmas being an exciting moment!     Continue reading

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One of the perks included in working with “obsolete” imagery is the bonus of realizing and exploring how its many strengths offer initiatives in our century. Configurations long gone leave a residue we turn away from at our peril, inasmuch as those major design flare-ups comprise depths being antidotes to the widespread vapidity of a wildly self-indulgent consumer market.

No one would want a typewriter in all its fuss to meet the world. But the integrity of structure and chromatic sunshine here can steady the rage for flatness and speedy connection, to include something more than awesomeness, something at a different pitch.     Continue reading

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Sometimes a graphic artist has a creative reason (perhaps more than one) to stay small. There may be a clutch of motives for putting tableau-scale poster work aside; and in this report I’d like to put them in play, because they come to the heart of the artistic payoff of graphic design, particularly that of hands-on work far more common years ago.

More often than not, the desire to produce a less popular attraction (be it about volume, context or both) will be shelved in favor of the urgent matter of making a living. (A remarkable number of vintage posterists were adept at fashion, industrial and spectacle design, therewith adding to the distance from a cherished run of diminutive ephemera.)

Once in a while, however, a client would, perhaps sheepishly, wonder if the artist’s skill would not mind doing something quiet and subtle and not very lucrative, only to discover that the commission comes as a welcome little feast of challenges!

In 1938, that deco Lautrec, A.M. Cassandre, was commissioned to produce a magazine ad for a brand of pineapple juice. In response he created a fusion of Cubist and Surrealist bolts to bring into the picture a singularity unfurling within the rather prosaic vehicle of the mass-circulation journal and the reader more likely looking for diversion than the sizzling divine! But there it is, take it (wisely) or leave it (unwisely)!     Continue reading

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