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POSTER OF THE MONTH - January 2014

vintage transportation posterHolland-America Line 1954
Reyn Dirksen
39” x 24”

Most folks nowadays regard cruise ships as drifting islets, their gargantuan proportions closely resembling Mediterranean real estate providing pied à terres for gadflies or gamblers hungry for stress-relieving diversion. Great graphic designers, like this month's master, Reyn Dirksen (1924-1999), are not like most folks, though they might be assigned to butter them up.

Dirksen, like so many of his colleagues during the era when managing change through design meant more than providing fatties with ways to get even fatter, comes to grips with the tourist fleet of Holland-America Line from the perspective of the wide-open seas. Even though this graphic doesn't show so much as a drop of water, its color saturation upon flat planes (primed by that azure sky) reaches the viewer in a key of something bigger than the banquet line.
The elemental color component is matched with elemental geometric factors to exude a multifaceted sense of modernity. At one level the efficiency and seaworthiness of the vehicle is brought forward. And then, what all of the great designers lived for, there is an aura of uncharted waters---richly sensuous, like an exciting dream come true!

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POSTER OF THE MONTH - February 2014

vintage ski posterQuebec Region c.1950
35 ¾” x 24 ¼”
A-, L

I think the best way to fully appreciate this rare and lovely vintage poster is to take to heart that it is not merely about skiing but about the wider thrum of the Quebec region, its delights and its challenges. With all the greenery showing, we have to imagine it's Spring and this might be one of the last chances that year to enjoy the drama of the plunge. Not only is this not the Swiss Alps with its endless season and chic apres-ski, it is the purveyor of totally different charms. Those pictured are not jet-set foreigners, but instead we get a taste of the perks of a less than dazzling neighborhood for families having lived there through many generations.

The design goes on to give us a study of how line and color divulge expanses of historical deposits. You'll notice that there are no ski lifts on
these hills, vantage points by which to show off amazing clothes and equipment. The decidedly homespun figures are dwarfed by a virgin countryside that, you may be sure, does not have lurking in its midst a Michelin-approved culinary gem with Ferraris in the parking lot. Here the attention has to do with more down-to-earth vigor and an almost desert bluntness implying lives far from skipping from triumph to triumph. The Quebec Region, as presented here, is a haven of sorts--but in the sense of having that concentration upon simple beauties from which to plunge into true modernity.

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vintage art deco posterFort William LNER
Grainger Johnson
40” x 50”

British Rail posters, from the 1920's and 1930's, were a dash of Magic Realism in an era otherwise aflame with the fiery distortions of art deco and Surrealism. The graphic artists commissioned to stress the attractions of holiday spots and railway rolling stock were a felicitous small army who were able to bring to great heights their love for the phenomena of their homeland.

Here Grainger Johnson cherishes a moody day in the Scottish Highlands, with its overcast sky still able to direct a few shafts of glorious sunlight upon the perky structures of the town, and upon that sailing yacht being excitingly challenged by the peppery winds so typical and so beloved. The unusual (for Britain) mountainousness is vigorously presented (the major peak is Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles) in earthy tones, made even more dashing by the contrasting blue of Loch Linnhe. amazing clothes and Like so many of his colleagues, Johnson was a brilliant exponent of graphic composition. The tilt of the boat and the touch of the sun play wonderfully against the changeless highlands, to an upshot of vivid pleasure. This poster is rare!

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