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POSTER OF THE MONTH - January 2016

vintage French travel poster Fort-Mahon Chemin de Fer 1908
J. Matagne
45 1/4"x 29 3/4"
We at I Desire Vintage Posters often take stock of the seeming incongruity of our generally aged inventory in a world market devoted to the new. We tackle this apparent misstep by way of a probe of the terms "aged" and "new." In doing so we renew our realization that some graphic artists a hundred years ago were much more current than most of the fretful gadget-hounds supposing themselves to be futuristic.
As an entry into the fresh new year and its promising aspect for vintage graphic art, we turn to a little bit of the real deal doing its stuff for a long, long time (since 1908, to be exact). A young boy on a beach being nearly washed away by a hot summer sun strikes us as charmingly drawn from the points of view of modelling, composition, color and evocation of place and time. It also carries in its sandy pocket a confirmation that fading out with quiet gusto and grace is the mysterious heart of fun. Solitude and the remoteness of others is as far from Victoriana as it is close to Art Nouveau rebellion.
There is a movie just out this year, namely, Youth (by Paolo Sorrentino), which shows a lot of mysterious space, a lot of charm (at the other end of the age spectrum from that shown by our poster) and a lot of frank disclosure that clinging to old standbys (as shown by an old, self-important musician and an old, self-important filmmaker) is worse than death.

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POSTER OF THE MONTH - Feburary 2016

vintage Italian poster Tricofilina 1945
Gino Boccasile
38" x 27"

Gino Boccasile was a shrewd and brilliant exponent of pin-up design in the service of making a product irresistible. His metier, both earthy and elegant, demonstrates in our Poster of the Month, that with a slight shift of specifics, the same standby-package of brimming good health and good cheer can elicit a winning fan base of a very different kind.
One of Boccasile's favorite motifs was to display--with a remarkable graphic facility---the suppleness of subjects using virtuoso body language to enhance everyday moments. The children here, by means of his unfailing sense of modelling, light, color and composition, become far more than cute--in fact they become divine, held forever in a moment the magic of which goes far beyond mundane planet earth.

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vintage Canadian poster Ski in Canada c.1940
36" x 24"

Back when scarves and felt hats were considered to be the right choice for skiing headgear, you have to imagine that the thrills of the hills were somewhat different from those of today. Our photo montage seems to draw us toward that imaginative territory. The lady in the foreground may not be a skier at all, but instead a fresh air aficionado showing off some impressive knitwear. The joy written across her face does not seem to be about actually becoming an athlete but instead embracing the far more difficult skill of self-possession over a long haul.
The font for "Ski" is a whimsical play upon dashing through virgin snow, more a spectator's ski experience than an athlete's. The two figures actually on the slopes are presented in such a way as to frame them in an aura of visitors from outer space. You could say that she's a friend of theirs, happy to see them so happy. But the UFO timbre insinuates a merry surrealism that takes us someplace. Here, so it seems, is a ski setting more diverse than clashes of the latest and hottest equipment. Could we say that in those days to-each-his-own was a going concern of a gentler and more expansive mode. Those sunny and simple expanses (with the War going on, no less!) induce a long view--slightly eerie--upon well-being!
She might have her wooden boards over her shoulder. But she still stands out as utterly non-fanatical, and that's, in my opinion, the heart of this splendid vintage poster speaking to the joys of a ski resort in the 1940s.

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vintage Canadian Pacific Railway poster Travel Canadian Pacific 1947
Peter Ewart
36" x 24"

Peter Ewart’s post-War design to promote long-range rail travel in Canada is remarkable in many ways. The overall composition frames the handsome machine in such a way that its modernist constitution pulls along a significant whiff of art deco! The chromatic study in brown, blue and black simplifies and pays homage to the dramatic mountain climax of a heroic trek. The blackness of the vehicle evokes an edge of daring and danger, a combination well activated through the War Years. Ewart, a consummate craftsman, adds a cheery note to this rather sombre design, by way of those playful, chic clouds as chording with playfully chic snow fields!
But perhaps the work’s less evident and more intriguing feature is its trajectory from out of that recent, world-wide struggle. Maintaining such a robust and resourceful pitch constitutes a tribute to the population having beaten back savagery for the sake of a modern creative adventure.

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 vintage travel poster Jamaica 1950s
40” x 29”
A, L; silkscreen

Here we have a vintage modernist design which puts nearly all of its chips on an infectious smile! In addition, a large and sizzling sun, a blue sky, verdant hills and palm trees, not to mention the blithe Caribbean Sea, are all informed by so casual a modernist energy that we are induced to regard the destination as not for very demanding vacationers. The couple on the raft and the dude paddling it are nothing to write home about. Even the nearby hibiscus blossoms and pineapple treat are middling in themselves. The composition alertly plays mass and specifics back and forth. And still we’re not sold.
What we actually open our appreciation with, however, is the lady up front, so convincingly joyous about her sketchy circuit that we become hooked on what cooks! Those large earrings are lifted by laughter; and we wonder what she could be so pleased about, her very streamlined arms a function of both constitutional robust sparseness and malnutrition. Her dress, simulating a plantation hillside, implies that she’s larger than life, and yet one of us. Looked at from her perspective, this holiday spot welcomes us to the beauties of a population—something most tourists to beach locales never think of. This iconic design dares the viewer/customer to go for something different. What’s not to love about that?!
The other remarkable thing about this surprisingly rare modernist poster is its being a silkscreen. As such, its quiet configurations gain slightly more pop, infusing the central presence with a degree of site specificity to further lift its import. Moreover, a frottage, in the form of a mist of ocean and sun spray, has been invested into the technique to further enhance the surprising mystery of the happy-go-lucky design!

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 vintage French travel poster Foire de Paris 1950
Albert Solon
23 ½” x 15 ¾”
A, P

The coat of arms of the City of Paris dates from 1358, and features a sailing ship. Paris not being a maritime centre, the somewhat misleading priority brings off a metaphorical flourish of a “vessel” to cover the staunch establishment steering the population and running whatever show was deemed worthwhile.
Our arresting poster of the month happily hops aboard that symbolic boat to evoke the grace and majesty of an old city’s always being a trendsetter for craft and art. The central configuration captures a long-standing priority of the City of Light, namely, understated rightness of distributing a construct. The modernist pitch emerges from the mists in time to once again confirm the City’s prominence. And the colors and textures of that representation of time convey that basic phenomena have been awakened by the design event being announced. The reflection of the craft in the water portrays the primeval strivings at the creative heart of Paris!

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 vintage magic poster Solanis 1945
G. Conde
37" X 24"
A-, L

Our Poster of the Month poses the ways of magic by way of a special angle upon amazements that are "modern." What would modern magic look like? Perhaps before taking a stab at answering that question we should specify that "le Magicien Moderne" is a French phrase. Let's also put on the table the fact that this vintage lithographic design was produced in 1945, at the end of World War II.
Notice the prominent position of the white bird (a "peace dove"?) emerging from the magician's top hat. The matter of peace after such such a venomous five years may be urged along the flags of the leading lights of the winning side--(in the order shown in the graphic) France, the US, Britain and Russia. Four playing cards are also to be seen in this flash of graphic meaningfulness. More than four blossoms fill out the picture we're trying to get a bead on.
Modern Magic (c.1945) surely involves the harmonizing of various points of view--something much easier said than done. But let's go back to the French factor to really situate the heart and soul of this quite remarkable graphic design. The visual attitude of vignettes swirling in the dark (enhanced by superb lithography and modelling) is a dead ringer for Surrealist insurrection. Desperate, extreme times call for more than stuffed shirt, top hat platitudes. The not-shown magician, Solanis, a modernist with a difference, crashes the party that could be settled upon facile tricks that carry no follow-through. Its momentum of something else sustains the moment with a sense of magic there for the taking for those who can rise to it.

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 Vintage Donald Brun poster Persil 1951
Donald Brun
50 ½"x 35 ½"
A-, P

Keeping an eye on sailboats on the Lake close-by, we've been struck by the challenges of alertness and physical strength the phenomenon of sailing entails. Operating a boat and lounging on-board are two very distinct events, and our Poster of the Month tacks firmly along the current of the latter presence. But let's give designer, Donald Brun, lots of credit for accomplishing a fusion of the two actions!
The boat and the body of water are given a very light touch. But, in the context of a cruise enthusiast showing off the whitest whites you'll ever see (thanks to the Persil soap company), everything fits beautifully. The natty ensemble includes a little dash of blue and red making the central will-o'-the wisp snowiness even more an element of the winds and the waves. Moreover, that the flesh-tones of her arms bleed into the sail's tan color and trail into that complementary blue sky further evoke the figure's pristine stature. Brun's modelling of this figure's attitude, her visage and her wind-blown hair completes the graphic injection of sprightliness for the sake of communicating the fruitful powers of the product. The wind-blown tag line, "...naturally along with a Persil touch," constitutes a delicious icing on the cake!

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POSTER OF THE MONTH - September 2016

 vintage transportation poster British European Airways 1948
39 ¾" x 24 ¾"
A-, P

Back in 1948, with Surrealism still at high tide and airports being fairly restful, the aviation industry would have been quite a bit more OK about mysterious objects on the go than it is today. In those days, too, having the terminal and the plane a football field apart was part of the fun.
Inanimate objects (and the occasional pet) were of special interest to the market-share calculations of the British European Airways right after the War. Having them cavorting on the tarmac would seem also to disarm all the novices in those days a bit shaky about leaving terra firma. The wings sprouting on the cargo refer to its travel mode; but also they entail the delight of a new mobility.
I like the configuration of the baggage cart moving away from us, but at the same time there being anticipation of the goods going skywards in heading toward us. An elegant vintage poster, suffused with a whimsical, surreal celebration of heading for heights!

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POSTER OF THE MONTH - October 2016

 vintage entertainment poster Swan Lake (Net Zwanenmeer) 1972
Toer van Schayk

Swan lake is perhaps the quintessential and most famous instance of all the ballets. Its mixture of romance, hostility and melancholy usually comes to us, in promotional actions, with a bumper crop of dazzlingly glamorous and graceful principal dancers.
The promotion seen here, however, for a 1972 production by the Dutch National Ballet, chooses to distil the human factor to its mystical powers. The swans are completely swans and therewith the lake and its environs proceed to steal the show. Tchaikovsky's musical score drives a hard Romantic-era bargain replete with allusion to shimmering dynamics uneasily balanced with bombastic melodrama. Someone in Amsterdam decided that what late 20th-century traffic could really twig to is a panorama of the elemental dimension of love.
Therefore, artist, Toer van Schayk, kicks off with compositional and chromatic initiatives of remarkable interest. Drawing upon Dutch Art Nouveau--Niewe Kunst, New Art--resources, he gives something old/something new all at once; but with a premium upon the new. I love how the linkages along the border show black outweighing white.On the black sea, excitingly graceful eventuation touched by a brief opening in dark, moon-shrouding cloud reveals highlights of breathtaking impact. The magical creatures are about to plunge over a cataract; but all is not lost!
About the artist:
"Toer van Schayk (born 28 September 1936) is a Dutch ballet dancer, choreographer, scenic and costume designer, painter, and sculptor. He is one of the creative triumvirate that brought the Dutch National Ballet to international prominence in the latter half of the twentieth century." (Wikipedia)

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POSTER OF THE MONTH - November 2016

 vintage tuberculosis poster Giomata Delle Due Croci 1934
(Tuberculosis Prevention)
39 ½" x 27 1/2"
A-,B+; L

This vintage poster from 1934 is a very rare instance of graphic design not merely stemming from broadband sensual singularities but from the specific vector of breath. Dynamics being at the core of modern initiatives, when it comes to confronting a scourge like tuberculosis, there is much to recommend in organizing a vision touching the viewer with visual cues brimming from experiences of enjoyment of breathing-in fresh air.
First and foremost, we have a scintillating, deep breathing swallow soaring over vast and delicious expanses. Many designers would opt here for sharp contrast as a means of showing to its utmost the dashing bolt of energy. But the agency here, C.A.L.A.M., has interestingly chosen to mute somewhat the central figure in order to light a whole landscape of vivacity to be enjoyed once the impediment is overcome. The black bird shows upon a dark blue sea free of any cloying incident. At the peak of its delight in flight there is pink and light blue, implying having broken free from a troublesome weight. The shoreline then chips in with spring-like greenery and golden beach. Blossoms appear on an otherwise deadened form. But the second tree, with its respiration-system presence, remains a sad case.
Say what you might about fascist-era endeavors. But the figure behind that scientific moniker was far from shabby.
The text reads "Day of the two crosses - Italian National Fascist Federation against Tuberculosis - Italian Red Cross and local anti-tuberculosis committees."

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POSTER OF THE MONTH - December 2016

 vintage French poster Salon de l´Automobile et du Cycle 1950
Jean Colin
23 ½” x 15 ¾”
A-, P

Graphic designer, Jean Colin, has, in this French vintage poster, shown that he takes his work seriously. Rather than merely replicate some of the hot new items coming off the assembly lines, he wants the viewer to be up to speed about the delight to be found in the dynamics of driving. The steering column and the driver's limbs--all in blacktop coloration--trace roots not simply about the tires but about a more tactile purchase upon the ride.
Only with that urgent design priority well under way, can we fully appreciate the other components constituting the full value of the promotion. The seat with flags from participating countries sustains the linear priority of the roadways and offers a sharp contrast of far flung destinations. The juxtapositions of the roster of those emblems is so fascinatingly chosen as to provide another dash of energy in accordance with the era of having weathered a devastating war. The asphalt grey of the wider expanse speaks to the mundane material being graced with so much useful and thrilling invention. The blank field beyond the window and the driver deftly conveys that the products represent opportunities that the buyers have to create for themselves. A design both elegant and lighthearted.
This poster is for the Annual Paris Motor show (Salon de l’Automobile) and in 1950 it was also for Cycles. The Grand Palais is a beautiful exhibition hall on the Champs Elysees that still exists.

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