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POSTER OF THE MONTH - January 2012

vintage French movie poster Peau d'Ane (Donkey Skin) 1970
Jim Leon
62" x 45 1/2"

Movie posters have always represented a peculiar challenge to us here at I Desire. Although there are instances of brilliant graphic design having been invested in film promotion, we have found most movie posters to be not our cup of tea.

But here we have an item not simply rising to Surrealist weirdness and beauty, in accordance with the Surreal nature of the film. A Princess skedaddles away from the Palace due to her widower father wanting to marry her. One of the subterfuges (to put him off) has been to have him present her with the pelt of a jewels and gold producing donkey, as her wedding dress, which she promptly uses as a disguise in a distant forest. I love how the designer, Jim Leon, suggests a second, loving and uncanny donkey, facing the first, and sharing the same mouth.

This film and its poster are thrillingly implicated in the goings-on of the 2011 film by Lars von Trier, Melancholia.

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POSTER OF THE MONTH - February 2012

Vintage Sports Poster Winter Bewitches c.1950
Rod Ruth
38 1/4" x 28"

What better way to promote the speed and grace of Greyhound Bus service, than to bring to the fore a lovely figure skater gliding amidst an inclement but picturesque winter snowfall. The deftness of the trail she etches on the ice serves as a reminder of the skill and sound human qualities that go into a trip on a Greyhound.

Over and above its promotional subtleties and strengths, this litho somehow captures its 1950s era of down-to-earth, modest pleasures. (There is nothing here of the x-rated figure skating motifs of our time.) And it conjures a time when winter was a bewitching wonderland to be appreciated in intimate, solitary ways.

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Vintage movie poster Moulin Rouge 1952

Even though this poster gives us a spa-treatment gloss upon the perpetually-bad-hair-days of the film narrative, it is not only delightful but unwittingly instructive about the workings of a fascinatingly divided dramatic production. John Huston's take upon the life of artist (and posterist), Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, coming to light, way back, when movies had to be careful about how much mystery they'd offer, made sure of box office success and personal survival by inviting the viewers to misconstrue its efforts as a heartwarming melodrama. But its songs included a couplet fully in line with the poster's sensual mystery and invitation to adventure---"Wine can make you true/ But a man can make you truer."

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vintage modernist poster Persil 1946
Donald Brun
50" x 35 1/4"

Spring being a time for getting up to speed the things at home, we thought we'd go in that direction rather than display any ravishing Impressionistic tributes to the fabulous greenery of the season. Domestic activities need not, however, be dull, and what better way to prove that than Donald Brun's creation of this homebody with breathtaking attitude. From that little red tornado her Mom's made from her hair, and down to those leopard skin slippers, we're in for a moment not only golden but enlivened---in keeping with Springtime.

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vintage Canadian travel poster Canadian National Railway 1930s
Jasper National Park
40" x 25"
A-, L

The vintage graphics output of Canada is decidedly modest in quantity, consisting almost entirely of Canadian Pacific travel, sports and transportation posters, some of which are beautifully drawn and presented in fine lithographic format.

But here we have a bit of a twist--the rival railway (promotionally stodgy, as befits a government agency) giving us a splendid design, and coming to us from an (anonymous) artist and far from well-known printer, in Sydney, Australia! The key design element is nighttime. From this inducement into mystery, the prehistoric-looking entity, namely, the moose, emerges as not merely weird but attractively placid. Furthermore, the peppy and welcoming train, seen from an enticing distance, insinuates that a comfortable as well as stimulating time is in store. Canada tends to evoke the tone of an epoch long surpassed, and this imagery plays into that expectation. "The Empire's Mountain Playground," it chirps. The golden moonlight upon snowy mountains millions of years old completes the promise of charming thrills.

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vintage modernist poster Canadian National Railway 1930s
Philips c.1950
31 1/2" x 19"

It is the unadorned, minimal touch here that could make this a nourishing part of one's life. The simple vignette, of a little black cat coming home at night, has been handled in such a way as to evoke mixed emotions. The door ajar amidst the black abyss, with no welcoming friend, takes us close to the realm of horror. But if we consider how long it takes some cats to hop to it, we could see the situation as one of merely not wanting to wait the twenty minutes or so it might take for the entrance. The fluorescent bulb at the side not only points the way but acts as a magic wand. We all know, don't we, how closely allied cats are to mystery, magic and delight!

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vintage modernist French poster Christian Dior Perfume 1970s
Gianfranco Ferre
18” x 12 ½”
A-, P

Italian fashion designer, Gianfranco Ferre, had, by 1989, become the leading light of the Christian Dior fashion corporation (specifically, its "Stylistic Director"). At some point during his eight-year tenure, he put into play a brand of perfume; and this serigraphic poster on deluxe paper was his way of letting us know what mystery and magic would be brought to bear. The attenuated figure appears to be an amalgam of solid, liquid and gas, but the result could not be more focused in its rendition of graceful verve. The agitated lines and the dash of energy between the browns of her hair and the greys of the dress signal that a modern edge would be prominent in the timbre of the scent.

Ferre was a graduate in Architecture and all of his designs shimmer with compositional and tonal innovation. Here the greatest excitement concerns the figure's high level of self-containment in setting forth with an agenda of sensual accessories.

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vintage modernist poster Solex c. 1960
Donald Brun
45" x 63"

The Italian colors on her pooch-bag and the rich green of her moped suggest we’re in Italy, with its golden ambience and special women. The bike design itself is hardly a threat to Vespa, and perhaps Brun, one of the smartest cookies ever to design a poster, responded to this conundrum by showing how beautifully and easily one can manoeuvre on the product. Being motorized, it allows her to treat it as a moving sofa, especially handy for keeping in touch with friends along the way.

Her wave, the pup’s wave and the contrasting textures of blackness in their lovely hair delighting in the breeze make this yet another instance of the artist’s skill in conjuring lasting impressions.

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art deco vintage poster Salo de Creacions 1935
19 1/4" x 13 1/4"
A, L

This is a design for an expo of fashion and other craft inventions to be held in Barcelona in 1935. Barcelona being the most French-inspired part of Spain, we have here a vivacious art deco commitment to streamline and forward-looking urbanity.

But what makes this work very special are the factors that distinguish it from Parisian chic. Its urbanity, far from on a roll from out of Belle Epoque exploratory pleasure, bristles with the sense of being on the firing line of a national cultural war, soon to be a shooting Civil War. Hence the dark and solitary figures looking into a sombre prospect. The work emits a confidence and quiet delight in modernity. But it also---and this makes it so contemporary---attends to the social fracturing that commitment entails. Its cool, astringent color sense is not simply patrician but also seriously combative.

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Vintage modernist poster Homing at Dawn 1942
Roy Nockoia
21” x 24”
A, P (framed)

This exciting and very rare World War Two litho quite brilliantly, I think, combines the gruesome subject of war with the expression of high hopes just around the corner. Its upbeat factor is all the more remarkable when you realize, from the status of the craft, that this 1942 graphic deals with a British war plane, the Vickers Wellington, that had been superseded, by the Avro Lancaster, as a full-fledged bomber before the end of a most stressful year (serving as an anti-submarine attacker for the duration of the War).

We see the craft returning at dawn from a nighttime bombing raid upon the infrastructure of a surging German army. Its dark presence, resolutely occupying a center point of the action, has been embraced by energies far transcending those deadly chores. It also occupies a quiet zone between two cloud formations which the oncoming sun presents in their awesomely beautiful and delicate features.As such those radiant powers constitute for the death-tinged crew a home indeed, which serves as a beacon not only for the principals within the vignette but for those of us revisiting their plunge many years later, in different mundane circumstances but still as intensely drawn into a hard and dangerous venture of finding a true home in nature.

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vintage art deco poster Dentifrice Blanchedent 1941
Claude Lemeunier
59" x 39 1/2"
A-, L

Produced in Nazi-occupied Paris, this work's carefree denizen of a tropical land untroubled by the War exudes a relaxed, supple, pristine beauty which those beholding it, in a dimmed City of Light, would regard as only realizable after a long time and much horror. I like the blue sky accompanying her and the greyness of the rest, directly transmitting the disparity. I also find thrilling the Picasso-like modelling as tracing to that artist's variegated exploration into registers of history launching a departure from conventional doldrums.

In addition to this historical radiation, the work also hits upon a seldom-appreciated (outside of dentistry) verve due to a purity of whiteness in our teeth as we smile. There is, if you think about it, an enhanced sexiness about perfect teeth, and the designer of this poster included this impact in his wonderfully comprehensive effort.

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Vintage modernist poster Vittel-Delices c. 1955
Emm. Gaillosh
45” x 61 3/8”

This has been a year of smashing graphics for us, modernist and deco plunges into currents that startle in their being right up to the minute. But rather than turn to one of these gems at this festive season, we'd like to draw attention to a poster that chooses to stress healthy nutrition, not usually a priority at this time of good cheer that tends to go over the top.

Now we're as fond of going over the top, in embracing great design, as anyone; and what's special about the rather simple appeal of this litho is its topspin. Here's a presentation of fruit juices that gives you a bit of a magic show.We're not treated to an awesomely vibrant movie starlet and her source of devastating power; but instead we behold a fairly attractive 30-something conjuring rather ordinary products as if they were from outer space. She may not be a babe, but she's connected to orange and lemon twists that keep her youthful and so lighthearted as to be tracing, with her dress,toward heavenly spaces.

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