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Things that make us smile!

I’ve become enamored with Danish posters recently. They are unfailingly cheerful, burst with color and make me want to visit Denmark – which, after all, is the purpose of travel posters! Over the course of the last year or so we have had the good fortune to obtain (and sell!) many posters created by own favorite contemporary Danish poster designer Mads Berg (see our gallery of his posters here), as well as some older Danish pieces.

I’ve written before about how many posters have hidden symbols or details which are obvious to people who know what they are looking at, and less obvious to others. The Denemarken poster (above, right) for instance, appeared to me to be a fairly basic travel poster. But upon closer inspection (and with a proper explanation kindly provided by a visiting Dane!) I began to see details that had previously escaped me. Dan the Dane, who came into the gallery with his lovely wife Sabine, explained to me that the poster is an advertisement for an inn, and that the small insignia over the door of the inn was in fact designed by the Danish Queen Margrethe II. Here is Dan’s letter:

“Hello Karen,

The Royal Insignia signified that the inn was one of [several] spread all over Denmark that enjoyed royal privilege, and I suppose also had some obligations. ‘Along the country roads in the middle ages many inns were established to look after the travelers for supplies and lodging. The distance between the inns could max. be about 40 Km., this being the distance a horse could do in one day. The first Danish inn to receive the royal privilege was Bromoelle Kro on Sealand in the year 1198.’

So you see it is quite the institution. You could I suppose compare this to the Quebecois Chemin du Roi as many of the important roads in Denmark at one very early point carried that name translating in Danish to “Kongevejen”.

Oh, and if you want more information on the current Danish monarch, Queen Margrethe II, you can just continue on the above web site to see all her ancestors and a couple of lines on their achievements. Her line goes directly back to all of them!!

Dan and Sabine”

(I’ve actually never before heard of the Chemin du Roi, but now that I have , I think that’s going to be a travel destination for next summer!)

I think Danish design is pretty neat (here are a couple of articles that I found online) and literally every Dane that I have met has been polite, charming and humble. Aside from the Chemin du Roi, I think I’ll have to put Copenhagen on my bucket list. Thanks Dan!

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If you’d like to find out more about Queen Margrethe, you can do so here.

One day while Facebook surfing I found a quirky little Youtube video of three Indian fellows dancing merrily with their shovels. Being Canadian, and living in winter for a good part of the year, I wondered who these men were and why they were dancing in the snow. Here is the original video that I saw, and here is the Facebook page of the Maritime Bhangra group. Bhangra evidently started as a harvest dance, and brothers Hasmeet and Kunwardeep Singh celebrate this dance in a uniquely Can-Indian way. To gain a deeper perspective on the Singh brothers, you can find out more information here, and here.
I can’t tell you why, but watching these guys makes me very happy.

The Socovel and the Campari are two fabulous examples of the clean and refined design that typified many Italian posters of the 1940s and 50s.

Years ago I dated a man who owned a beautiful Ducati motorcycle. (He owned many beautiful bikes, but the Ducati was my favorite.) I had never been on a motorcycle of any kind, and felt that if I was ever going to ride behind anyone on any bike, it was going to be with this man on this bike. Every time I see this Socovel poster in the gallery reminds me of the thrill of that night. And every time, I smile.

(If you’d like to find out more about Ducati’s you can do so here, and here. If you’d like to find out more about that ride, you’ll have to ask me yourself! )

I love this article about the pill. Opening sentence: “The Pill” is a pill. (How’s that for stating the obvious?)

It’s hard to remember a time when birth control was not as easily available as it is now, but when the pill came onto the market in the 1960s, it created a firestorm of controversy (you can read a bit about that here).

Vittorio Fiorucci (whose work we are proud to carry at the gallery and which you can see here) had a ‘take no prisoners’ approach to life, birth control and sexuality. His poster for an International Exposition of Pornographic Art was, in fact, created for a non-existent exhibition: Vthe artist just wanted yet another excuse to showcase a woman’s body in his eponymous fashion. His bravado – and this poster – make me smile.

Last summer I drove across Italy to see a Christo installation on Italy’s Lago D’Iseo. The Floating Piers was a floating walkway 16 meters wide, 35 centimeters high, and roughly 6 kilometers long. Christo wanted a walk along the pier to replicate what it would feel like to walk on the back of a whale – and he did. Hundreds of thousands of people came to the sleepy lake towns of Sulzano and Peschiera Maraglio to experience this 14-day experiment, and I am very grateful to have been among them.

Villemot’s Perrier poster, itself inspired by a much earlier work by Hokusai, reminds me of Christo’s Floating Pier installation at Lago D’Iseo.

In case you need a good laugh, Reddit’s News of the Stupid can always be counted on for a giggle, Monty Python can literally make me laugh out loud, and if you ask me really nicely,
I’ll tell you on of the few jokes I know how to tell.

I’ve written about the Olympics before (check here and here), but somehow watching athletes of all nations parading (and in this case, samba-ing) into the Maracanã stadium never gets old. Rio means heat, samba, teeny-tiny bikinis, and a bunch of new tear-jerking ads by companies like Visa.

When – other than two weeks in the summer every 4 years or so – do arcane sports like archery get top billing on television sets around the world?

I never tire of seeing Michael Phelp’s magnificently sculpted body swim farther and faster than anyone else … and I think it’s pretty cool that a 31-year old new dad brings his baby to the pool. (Wanna see how good he is? Check here and here)

It’s no surprise that the American female gymnastics team brought home the gold – they were favoured by many odds-makers – but perhaps you didn’t know that this was the last Olympics for the famed Martha Karolyi. She and her husband Bela have worked with the team for decades. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they definitely get results.

I’m not going to post the video of the poor gymnast who broke his leg on the vault (although the bewilderment on his face was priceless), nor will I take sides on the doping scandals (although I do think they are scandalous) …

Years ago while travelling from here to there I sat next to an interesting man who was in charge of a global anti-doping agency. We talked – as travellers do – without too many filters, and although he was very vague, I had the sense then that things were going to heat up in the doping world. Lo and behold, here we are … The Russians claim they’ve been framed, the world believes the Soviets have been caught, and historians just chuckle because this is neither the first, nor the last, Olympic scandal.

We have a selection of some pretty fantabulous Olympic posters from Munich, Montreal and Moscow. As a special bonus for our loyal blog-readers (and in celebration of Rio), for the month of August (2016) we’re offering 10% off our Olympic posters.

So, make yourself an ice-cold caipirinha, put on some sexy samba music, and enjoy the show. After all – it only happens once every four years! 🙂

One of the most wonderful aspects of my Klinger project (if you’re a regular reader of the blog you’ll know that I’ve been – forever! – working on a book about Julius Klinger, which, if the fates align properly, will be published later on this summer) is the fascinating people I have met along the way. Curators from around the world, poster experts from the US, UK, Germany and right here at home, as well as dealers, auctioneers and aficionados who have shared their posters (and their love of posters) with me from the moment I began this project … they have all played a huge role in helping and guiding me over the last five years.

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Nicho Lowry of Swann Galleries in New York – shown here during one of his regular stints on the Antiques Road Show

The poster world – populated by people I often refer to as the Poster Mafia – is actually a small group of people who buy and sell posters for a living. But, like any intimate group activity, these people work in the field because they love posters. They can tell you about the posters that got away from them at auction, about the posters they sold and wished they hadn’t, about the posters they keep for themselves… They (ok, we) can tell you about the history of a poster by looking at the paper upon which it is printed and how the ink has been absorbed by that paper. We can trace the development of individual poster artists through their work and through the influence they had on their peers. We can explain these things to you because we spend our days and nights around and about posters – because we love them. (Or at least I do.)

Working on the Klinger book gave me entrée to another group of poster people: museum curators (and the people who work with and for them) at both private and public institutions in Israel, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Canada, the United States and Switzerland. While dealers work (in a very hands-on manner) with posters, touching them, showing them, packing and unpacking them, curators rarely handle their posters, and when they do, they do so while wearing white gloves (generally in climate-controlled environments).

Recently I had the opportunity to meet Bettina Richter, the curator of the poster collection at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich. Bettina, and her registrar Patrizia Baldi, had consented to letting me reproduce some of their Klinger posters in my book and as I was travelling nearby, I asked if I might be able to visit their archives. (The Museum für Gestaltung has a few Klingers that I have not been able to locate elsewhere and I was very excited to see them.) After a guided tour of the general design archives (which were exquisite, immaculate and absolutely fascinating), and a brief meeting with Bettina, she took me down to the poster archives and graciously let me see some of ‘her’ Klingers.

When I was able to see the ink on these wonderful Klinger posters and discern which lithographic plate had run through the press first, or when, before Bettina uncovered an entire poster, I could tell from just a corner which poster it was going to be, I realized how much joy this project has brought to my life, and how much I have grown and learned through the process. In those moments I thought of Hans Sachs and how when describing his own (lost) poster collection he wrote: “I am grateful to the fates for the decades in which I was able to find such joy in my treasures. They were an infinitely rich and significant part of my spiritual, artistic, and human development… In gratitude I should like to shake the hand of each (poster artist) for the hours of artistic stimulation their creative work has afforded me.”

I am grateful to the fates Sachs mentions, but also to the humans – people like Susan Reinhold and Marc Choko – who have consistently (and insistently) helped me bring this project to life. I’m grateful to the people who work with and for me at L’Affichiste, for their dedication to the gallery (and by extension, to me) has permitted me to be absent for weeks and months at a time while working on this book. But most of all, I’m grateful to Julius Klinger, for it is his work that has made me fall in love with posters, poster history, and the Poster Mafia, all over again.

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Our friend, the handsome Danish diplomat, Hans Glaubitz

Years ago we put together a questionnaire that we occasionally ask our friends and clients to answer. I recently stumbled across the answers provided by our friend and poster consignor Hans Glaubitz (you can read about him here…)

I met Hans shortly after I opened the gallery, and although our friendship began within the constraints of client/dealer, I am now happy and honored to all him a friend. He taught me a great deal about maritime posters (his passion), Dutch diplomacy, and discretion. He is a kind and elegant man with a zest for life and a sense of adventure that would be hard to match.

I realized that although I had sent Hans the questionnaire ages ago, we had never posted them (horrors!!), so, without further ado …

The Poster Romance Questionnaire (with apologies to Proust and Vanity Fair):

1.    Where is it that you best express your creativity – the boardroom, the classroom, the bedroom or the kitchen?

At 65, the kitchen.

 2.    An alien arrives on your doorstep. In a limited amount of time, you would like to introduce him to our culture and way of life. Which three places would you take him to, and why?

To the kitchen – that’s how we stay alive (alternatively to the medical cabinet in the bathroom, for the same reason). To the car in the garage – that is what we need to get the things we need to stay alive in the house. To the internet, where would we be without it in the 21 st century?

Of course, there are people, former CNN presenter Lou Dobbs comes to mind, shivering, who think that aliens, especially illegal ones, know our society so well (otherwise they would not be here) that they could easily do the introductions themselves.

3.    How would you describe your present state of mind?

Relaxed, peaceful, difficult not to be with a good glass of wine at hand.

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We think Hans would like the Grande Liqueur Étoile Anis almost as much as we do…

4.    Six words that best describe you…

Paradise = good company, food, drinks, books (not necessarily always in that order).

5.    Your new extra-terrestrial buddy asks for a definition of ‘happiness’ (a concept which does not exist on his planet). What would your definition be?

See above, answer to #4, substitute “Paradise” for “Happiness”.

6.    If you were going to be confined to a space with four blank walls for a period of time, which kind of artwork would you like to bring with you?

I would seriously fight such a confinement, but if I lost, I might like to have Salvador Dali’s May West Lips’ Sofa around to sit on, but more probably a beautifully designed ladder to climb out.

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I think this horse might let Hans use his ladder, don’t you?

7.    The alien wins $10 million in the lottery and asks for advice on what to do with it. What would you suggest?

Buy a seat in Richard Branson’s space-craft and get out of here, quickly, in style.


8.    If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Nothing, I am happy the way I am.

9.    What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

This still has to come.

10.  Before returning to his planet – having decided Earth was no place for a sane extra-terrestrial – the alien asks one final question: how do you find peace on a place like Earth?

Not, so take inspiration from people like Winston Churchill, who famously once said (when accused of drinking too much): “I have always taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me,” so invest heavily in Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Scottish single malts, for starters.

If you would like to take Hans’ advice, we think you should start with an investment in posters that feature wine, aperitifs, or digestifs … like those featured above!

 

This gallery contains 6 photos.

We meet some of the most interesting people: folks who live in Montreal, people who are just passing through, some who know a lot about posters, and some who are new to them … and from all of them, we learn something. For instance: A very dapper Dutch man came in certain that we would …

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