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POSTER OF THE MONTH - January 2014

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


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
Eberhardt
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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POSTER OF THE MONTH - March 2014

vintage art deco posterFort William LNER
c.1925
Grainger Johnson
40” x 50”
A-,L


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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POSTER OF THE MONTH - April 2014

vintage art deco posterPKZ
Marcel Hemjic
50" x 35"
A-, Japan Paperbacking


Here is a graphic design that seems to call out for responses to its seasonal evocativeness. But we'll take another avenue of appreciation, namely, delight in a solitary walk. This being about a Zurich clothier, we could take up the proud loneliness of the successful businessman; but we won't go there, either.What we will consider are the precise balances of the cut of the sleeves and the hem as touched by a Manhattan-like gridwork facilitating progressions that are both part of and out of this world. I love how the bolts on his scarf resume their pitch into terra firma by way of outlining of the cane (and even the trace of his boot).In this perspective the spray of leaves evokes the overall dynamics which the soloist with shaded face undergoes, as he bends into stiff headwinds.

There is a masterful balance of form and color, with its implication that our protagonist is unusually scrupulous. And where has this distinction carried him? There is a masterful balance of form and color, with its implication that our protagonist is unusually scrupulous. And where has this distinction carried him? The art deco frappe of this business-as-usual promotion would seem to be including a dimension beyond the domain of shopping. Like so many great vintage graphics, it is subtly touched by excitements having to do with the days dwindling down and the luxurious rewards included in facing up to that situation.



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POSTER OF THE MONTH - May 2014

vintage modernist poster Golden Arrow c. 1950
Alan Durman
40” x 25”
A-, P


We know of lots of people who travel to places, like New York and Paris, primarily to shop for clothes. We have traveled extensively to shop for vintage posters and graphics.

There was in the post-War era a British train service (remarkably luxurious) called the Golden Arrow, which linked London with Dover and, after the hop across the Channel, carried the lucky shoppers to Paris in a French facsimile, called, Fleche d'Or. Our smashing graphic statement here is masterfully redolent of that premium upon the very best. The color scheme is as neat and rich as those pink bow ties. The pretty shopper, on the way home with beautifully packaged treasures, is a bit becalmed after a hectic day or two but suffused with the magic of riding the wave of modern invention.The power and grace implied by the imagery also seems to promise leaving behind a muddy past for the
sake of a future in the pink. Notice, the figure's rather Victorian travel garb. (She left from Victoria Station.) How does it all add up? That we're drawn to that question, demonstrates an especially haunting piece of graphic art!



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POSTER OF THE MONTH - June 2014

vintage modernist poster Blue Star Arandora Star 1935
Kenneth Shoesmith
40" x 24 3/4"
A, L


This design, by the very special graphic artist, Kenneth Shoesmith, is a luxury liner in itself, what with its instantly dazzling portraiture and color and compositional strategies. The objective is to inspire one to book passage on a cruise to the Southern Hemisphere; and, the graphic work having thus shown the Southern Hemisphere to be rich beyond anything at home, the temptation would be overwhelming (overwhelming, that is, to those able to afford it in the midst of the Great Depression).

The two ladies do much of the heavy lifting here, perhaps especially in their physical presence and apparel. As in alert filmmaking—for instance, the recent gem, Under the Skin—sensuous poise is a powerful attraction. Those eyes and those perfect positions speak to be compellingly alive to the moment.
This snippet of Java sums up a world of mix-and-match ensembles—the tops being filmy or non-existent, the skirts being more enfolding and with bold color patterns.

One last point: the ship’s whiteness has the aura of another planet to which the palm trees bow in their genius for conviviality.

The Daily Mail announced that Liverpool’s Merseyside Maritime Museum is hosting an exhibition of ocean liner posters starting on May 16th, 2014. The poster headlining the show happens to be our Poster of the Month.



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POSTER OF THE MONTH - July 2014

vintage French travel poster Paris Welcomes You
International Exposition 1937
Hilden
39” x 24 ¾”
B+, L


The Eiffel Tower was the center piece of the 1889 Exposition Universelle, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. In 1937, despite very difficult times, Paris staged a hopefully revolutionary International Exposition of Design. Here we have an original vintage poster that takes into account a history of French accomplishment in hopes of rallying a dispirited populace. For good measure, it includes the Statue of Liberty, another iconic endowment from French design savvy and depth. As such, the work emphasizes the special invitation to Americans to refresh their bonds of liberty and reaching for the skies, at a time when most eyes were directed to far less lofty priorities.

I especially like those touches that mark definite progress of vision over the grand but rather musty Tower.
Lady Liberty is a deco exclamation mark playing toward shimmering seas-- the ocean liner route to France. The French countryside traversed by the French State Railways is shown to be blessed by golden light and a verdant Paris destination. Thus the play of the design becomes a roundelay of Arts and Crafts (the Tower), Deco (the Statue) and Moderne (the Cityscape).



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