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POSTER OF THE MONTH - January 2013

Vintage Art Deco poster Philips c.1950
48” x 33”
B+, L

There is an exhilarating course of action here, sustained by not only masterful composition but, especially, masterful deployment of color. The capture of electrodynamics is shown emanating from a pink sunset (discreetly banded by the corporate name), as directed toward illumination in a residential setting, held by a midnight blue.

But the science of this event has been superseded by the heavenly figure, in order to sustain the sense of the marvel (as distinct from the machine) that is nature, in its embrace of human history, and the marvel that is human intervention as collaborating with nature.

I love how the sylph is all aloft in art deco air-brush touches of her dress and hair, as complemented by the surreal clouds and window. In this way, the history of art as well as science is included in the beautiful, mysterious process of illumination.

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POSTER OF THE MONTH - February 2013

Vintage Art Deco poster Nouveautes de la Saison c.1930
S. Jubssonne ?
23 ½” x 37 ¼”
B+, L

The season is Spring, with its delicate pink blossoms. And the special event, about which the new fashion lines are arrayed and embellished, is Valentines.

The artist and the enabling advertiser were on the same page in seeing this moment as calling out for simple, heartfelt love, in contrast to the sharp irony and overpowering chic far more characteristic of such a comportment.

I'm thrilled by the current of response induced by, first of all, the delicate, dark line of the bird's wing by the woman's hand and cheek. The coursing of attention through the rest of the bird's outlines, and then meeting the woman's eyelashes and eyebrows, running then to the little branches, conveys a communion of surprising scope.

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vintage modernist poster Nouveautes de la Saison c.1930
Caroline c.1980
Rene Gruau
63" x 47"
B+, p

Our Posters of the Month have tended to consist of deluxe lithos or silkscrees from the pre-1960s era. But there are serigraphic (and hence continuous-color) designs from the more recent era which deserve to be appreciated.

Take, for instance, this "impeccable" (indeed) offering by the formidable Rene Gruau. I love how the white stripes of the figure's dress act as conduits bringing the surge of the surround into a confluence with the accordingly authoritative and buoyant woman of our time. This work is about so much more than women's fashion retailing, and in that exciting range it belongs in the company of treasured lithographs.Gruau---who does in others of his works display a talent for the high drama of glamor---also realizes that a rich telepathy is at hand, in speaking with the right touch to those who have a daytime existence.

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 Vintage art deco posterEurope 1950
Reyn Dirksen
29 1/4" x 21 1/2"
B+, L

All our colors to the mast," is the stirring subtitle here, for this electric graphic concerning the Marshall Help Plan For Europe, designed by a great graphics exponent, the Dutch artist, Reyn Dirksen (1924-1999)

It's right after World War II, and the smallish countries of Europe are poverty cases, and, what's worse, demoralized by the task of getting back on track. The need for concerted economic effort is paramount, and our poster here addresses the situation with the visual metaphor of a ship in troubled waters. The sails consist of the flags of the countries pooling their energies to make their way out of heavy shadows to a normal harbor.

The vivacity in this work is provided by harmonization of the various national colors. Moreover, the positioning of the various swatches of white provides a trajectory of lift. The modelling enacts classic European craftsmanship, a serious asset in the arena of global competition.

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 vintage modernist posteriPod Struttin’ Her Soul 2007
72” x 48 ½”
A-, P

Spring is here, but some of us prefer hotter climes! Like a tall palm tree, this monumental burst of energy, in homage to the Apple iPod musical system, evokes the teeming rain forests where zesty things sprout by the millions.

This is, however, not merely a random, exuberant depiction of the joys of dance tunes. In its encompassing the legendary art deco icon, Josephine Baker---she of the banana skirt---it is a call to love the heat of a newer and freer world. The torque of the figure's body entails cutting a swath through an all-too-prevalent feebleness and standing up for a much needed upgrade upon sensual phenomena. Primal---not primitive---kinetics are in play across this vast expanse---and we have the chic little silver invention to disclose a technical future rooted in a musical logic of the heart.

(This series was ardently supported by Apple CEO and visionary, Steve Jobs.) Do visit our full range of the iPod campaign--coming later this month. We know you won't be disappointed!

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vintage Italian posterItaly Pan American c. 1950
42” x 28”
A-, L

There are many graphic approaches in the always highly anticipated world of vintage travel posters. One major tack is to hit the viewer with a facsimile of some attraction so close to the powerful facts that you want to go there an absorb it in person. Another strategy, the one chosen by the artist of the current instance, is to come up with a distillate of the atmosphere so unlike that of one's home that you wouldn't dare miss it.

The delicate color shift in the title---covering the nation's flag---opens the curtain on a place where structures and people oscillate between heaven and earth. We have the Leaning Tower of Pisa and a correspondingly leaning carabiniere (Italian National Police)---each in a state of mysterious elation (the welcoming party being faceless in the spirit of will-o'-the-wisp Futurism). We have monumental architecture that fades into an uncanny, euphoric spaciousness. This essence of Italy at its finest exerts a great seduction, powerfully speaking to our innate need for discovery.

A special feature of this work is its sophisticated color design and glorious color lithography, imbuing the vignette with rich, delicious energy.

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Vintage modernist posterRheinbrucke Bale 1945
Donald Brun
50” x 35”
A-, L

Donald Brun at his very best!

Here the magic arises from the contrast between the public sphere of a department store in Bale, Switzerland, and the intimacy of the private world of the little girl and her kitten.The rendition of the client's catalog is bemusing in its spare, almost sterile, abbreviation of black and white showings of product lines. But the rich detail of the girl's outfit, not to mention her facial features, her hair and the kitten's fur, leads us to understand that she has already been provided with the real thing. Thus the high quality of the store sort of sneaks up to us, as a kitten would. Especially to be savored is the snap of her skirt and leggings, the chic of her shoes and the match between her little scarf and big bow-tie ribbon. The color values and distribution are breathtaking. Note the tiny green dots amidst her black sweater.

Let's also salute the angle of view, from over her shoulder, bringing to glorious verve the girl's charming, confident posture and the kitten's delightful stretch, inducing us to wish we could see both of them in motion. This is a vignette that can linger inour hearts forever, and as such it is a dynamite graphic promotion; and, in addition, a gift of modernist sensibility, whereby an archaic historical power (Switzerland in general) can be upstaged by the freshness of warm hearts in its far from complete jurisdiction.

Wouldn't this be a fantastic poster for home or office?

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vintage beverage posterArko 1901
Mihaly Biro
73" x 49"
B+, L; Framed

The early years of the twentieth century were extraordinarily marked by visions of major change. Design innovations stemming from far back into the nineteenth century tended to include notions about social and political shortfalls. One notable initiative involved passionate expression of malaise about one's place in the world and about the world itself. This Expressionist effort sent forth structures (in areas ranging from poetry to architecture) showing often disconcerting but also very exciting stress and distortion.
Our Poster for the Month of September stems from that history. The artist, Mihaly Biro, was an ardent humanitarian polemicist; and so, even for an assignment about the virtues of a beverage, he couldn't resist decrying the decadence of the amassment and enjoyment of wealth.
But, being first and foremost an artist, his depictions of such predators are so richly observed as to include quite fascinating, even attractive, energies.
The full-scale figuration comprising this design serves to present an earthy verve, as augmented by great compositional and color touches. Biro was also involved in movie poster production; and this bold, big-scale work gives us an instance brimming with noirish invention! A very rare poster!

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POSTER OF THE MONTH - September 2013

vintage travel posterFurness Liv Aboard Bermuda Cruises c1950
Adolph Treidler
39 1/2" x 30"
A-, L

A cruise to Bermuda, especially as far back as the 1950's, has, I imagine, to be primarily about discovery of the poetic side of life. Let's not entertain the possibility that, even then, there were preoccupations of hob-nobbing with celebrities, kicking a hobby up a notch or plodding ahead with a semi-annual escape from a home gone so unbearably dull that vegging out becomes a step forward.

Adolph Treidler was a graphic artist in search of the full workings of that "more" we all know about but find to be easily relegated to inconsequentiality. His travel depictions situate the viewer not in some life-changing eruption but in a
panorama of chromatic and compositional equilibrium so palpably alert to physical dynamics that fresh prospects take on positions unusually far reaching. Here the well-apportioned, fertile blanket of blues and greys, punctuated by sunlit-white highlights, gives notice that a dispensation of loving care can prevail.

It is only too easy for a cynic to lump this scene to-- along with Switzerland, Monaco and Singapore--some kind of draconian, exclusive ivory tower the impressions of which being thereby invalid. But that would be a prosaic/political take on the phenomenon. The poster does not maintain that a perfect centre can and must flourish. It provides a quick glimpse of a poetic illumination which intrinsically entails a prevailing slide to dullness. The stylizations of great poster art are linked to questions, not answers.

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POSTER OF THE MONTH - November 2013

vintage modernist posterMostly Mozart Festival 1974
Jack Bush
69 3/4"x 37"

Back when Lincoln Centre would commission the hottest New York painters to produce posters for their Mostly Mozart summer classical music festival, we came upon an anomaly, a work within that series by Toronto graphic designer and fine art painter, Jack Bush (1909-1977).

The singularity of this design does not begin to exhaust the matter in its mere geographic spillover. Unlike the bids for tableau monumentality coming from the strictly painterly Abstract Expressionists on hand (not to mention the utterly uninspired photo work of more recent years), this silk screen and lithograph compound has taken the measure of what summer and summery Mozart are about. On an earthy, loam-colored ground, we have a garden in bloom, stripped to its elemental properties. The flesh-toned crescent boomeranging against the stalk, gives us the warmth and glee of a summer sun. Thus set in a Major Key for lightness, the structure leads us into myriad merry progressions, based upon not only the elicitations of form and color and their interplay but also upon the brush work incidents at the edges of each color statement.
Like so much of the music of Mozart, this seemingly effortless composition is a treasure to come back to again and again.

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POSTER OF THE MONTH - December 2013

vintage art deco posterGala Midnite Show c.1930
60” x 40”
B+ Silkscreen, heavy paper

New Year's Eve tends to become a stagger zone tacked onto a too-crazy season of partying. Graphic designs speaking to this event tend to accentuate the sheen of the venue and downplay the revellers, unless parody is required. What I especially like about this inspired presentation is the modelling of the faces, refreshed, as if having already been touched by the the fresh start of a new year. Also reflecting attention to the rarely achieved intimacy of this event is the way the man's right hand closes around the woman's gown---very unlikely for recent acquaintances.

Though the clock, the balloons and other props are quite standard, they achieve some vivacity by their distribution around the clockface, which extends to the shape of the text. The pop created by the positioning of the couple's heads, as
extended by the balloons (taking their cue from the color of the woman's hair) conveys their mutual attraction, bidding well for a warmly happy new year.

The sensibility of flapper-era joie de vivre here leads us to recommend a treasure trove of such touches, namely, "The Magazine of the Vintage Nouveau," Zelda. The warm sensuality of the imagery and the labors of love in the writing are a must for anyone captivated by the register of energy emanating from our Poster of the Month. I hope to present a blog on that remarkable publication some day soon.

Our poster is given a full page exposure in Zelda's Fall/Winter 2013 Issue.


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