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Vintage Posters

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!

——

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.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the Netflix series The Crown… So much so that I watched it twice!

I thought the series was (generally) kind to the Queen, not quite so generous to her consort, and overall made a conscious and concerted effort to highlight the naughty and nefarious goings-on among the various royal houses and hangers-on.

There has always been a fascination with the Royal family’s public and private lives. During WWI The Illustrated London News featured stories about the nursing efforts of the Royal princess alongside write-ups from the Western Front. The recent US presidential results have drawn some pundits to point out “How watching Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ can prepare you for the Trump presidency” and Philip’s extra-marital wanderings have been examined and discussed in great detail, including a recent Vanity Fair expose.

Claire Foy as a young Queen, and our poster of a young British Miss selling Post Office Savings Bank accounts … both rosy-cheeked, both very sweet, and only one available for sale.

According to the British royal website, the Queen “has ruled for longer than any other Monarch in British history, becoming a much loved and respected figure across the globe. Her extraordinary reign has seen her travel more widely than any other monarch, undertaking many historic overseas visits. Known for her sense of duty and her devotion to a life of service, she has been an important figurehead for the UK and the Commonwealth during times of enormous social change.”

Her recent 90th birthday party celebrations (highlights of which can be seen here) once again raised the question of her succession, but given her life-long devotion to her crown and her country, I am fairly certain that everything will proceed just as it should. Long live the Queen!


Featured posters:

I wanted to write a blog post about elections and election posters without resorting to mentioning Trump and some recently leaked video about what Amy Schumer calls ‘lady parts’. (Well, I think both Trump and Ms. Schumer are more precise, but I’m a little old fashioned … still…) And today, October 16, 2016, just a few days after Bob Dylan was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature (?!), I happened to find this great –Milton Glaser/Dylan-inspired Bernie Sanders 2016 poster. Poster Karma!

Many articles, books and blogs have discussed the power of persuasion that political posters have – and have always had – on public opinion. Here at L’Affichiste when we show posters by Alphonse Willette, we mention that he was often referred to as one of France’s secret weapons in the propaganda war that accompanied WWI.

I prefer our Journée du Poilu to the 2016 anti-Clinton poster on the right. For me, a solid propaganda poster needs to have a clear message: Journée du Poilu = home, hearth, romance. I’m not entirely sure what The Teflon Con means…

Great political poster artists have to be able – like all poster artists – to not only grab and keep your attention, but to impart a message that is memorable. Whether it’s the anti-Facism de Gaulle poster (below left) or the WWI Canadian bond poster (below right) each work managed to imprint itself on the viewer’s visual memory (this at a time before leaked videos …)

There have been some great articles written about political posters, like this one or this one.

Certain poster images have become unforgettable talismans of long-forgotten wars fought in far-off lands. As the Imperial War Museum has written about the Remember Belgium poster (bottom right)

“Ellsworth Young was responsible for one of the best-known American posters of the First World War. Taking a title which first appeared in two British recruiting posters, Remember Belgium, the artist uses the alleged atrocities committed by Germans in 1914 to generate sympathy for the Belgians and thereby encourage Americans to invest in war savings. Young did his design in 1918, but little else is known about the artist. The US war loan schemes were very successful, and by the end of the First World War millions of such posters had been produced, many using the Statue of Liberty (which became the Liberty Loan logo, designed by Adolph Treidler) or Uncle Sam as a motif. Such campaigns were even more effective than those launched in Germany (Joseph Pennell’s design of New York in flames, created for the Fourth Liberty Loan, was particularly successful). The message of Young’s Remember Belgium is simple, and its image clear and horrifying. Interesting is the resemblance between the German soldier and Otto Von Bismarck, whose appearance the artist would have known from illustrations. Also interesting is the large amount of plain green background (actually composed of green and blue, with small orange flecks), and the use of diagonals, indicating how effective Ellsworth Young was as a designer.”

 

As for me, I must say that I’ve found watching the US election to be an exhausting and rather unpleasant experience. Or as this Bernie Sanders (pseudo) campaign poster puts it…

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For people who don’t live in Montreal, it is literally hard to imagine the upside-downness of our metropolis. For reasons having to do with decaying infrastructure, political points-making, seasonal availabilities and a variety of other reasonable and unreasonable … well, reasons … Montrealers are in a constant state of traffic and road construction-induced agitation.

Every street in our city is littered with fencing, gravel, construction guys, backhoes … for anyone who lives and or works in (particularly Old) Montreal, it is a nightmare of epic proportions. (If you want to feel our pain and learn more, you can go here, or here).

It’s been more than challenging to keep up our spirits. It’s been noisy, dusty, unpredictable (really, check this out to see how unpredictable it is – look at the estimates for how long the people that know think this will take) and tourist-deflecting. The battalion of men (and it is almost uniformly men) who work on the patch of our street between Notre Dame and St Paul have been at turns polite, accommodating, maddening, rude, nasty – and everything in between. There doesn’t seem to be a plan (kind of like this) – there are just a lot of men scurrying about, creating an archeological dig that makes the tourists scratch their heads and post pics on FB.

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This vintage Aislin (Terry Mosher was a beloved Gazette cartoonist for many, many years) cartoon was created around the time of the Montreal Olympics back in 1976. It appears nothing has changed.

 

 

 

We’re taking the opportunity to get our inventory up to date – we’ve been listing new items all the time, translating French website descriptions, and trying to stay happy and upbeat. If you’re around, stop by and say hello. Cocktail hour starts earlier every day …

 

 

 

 

 

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! 🙂

This week on Facebook we’re featuring our Polish posters and offering a giveaway contest: for every Polish poster purchased on-line or in the gallery, we will give away, for free, a copy of the exhibition poster that our favourite Polish poster artist Tomasz Walenta designed for a 2014 L’Affichiste exhibition.

Although I’ve written about Polish posters before (here and here), I thought a little refresher course might be a good idea:

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“Polish posters of the second half of the 20th century contributed significantly to modern visual culture and museums, collectors and design educators around the world recognize their significance. Known as ‘the Polish school’ of poster design, these works, while stylistically diverse, can be recognized as part of a unified, and ultimately national, approach to poster art that reflected the soul of a population during a long period of repressive governance and political unrest.” (From a great on-line article you can find here).

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Another great synopsis of this country-specific artform states (in part) that, “The state Publishing Agency, Wydawnictwo Artystyczno Graficzne (WAG), supported the creation of hundreds of posters each year for cultural events, providing comfortable income for the leading poster artists. In 1966, Poland held the First International Poster Biennial, and, in 1968, the world’s first poster museum was established in Warsaw. By the 1970s, posters were so popular that the government, although still monitoring for subversive content, eased censorship and sponsored design competitions. Winners were awarded prizes and allowed to compete internationally, and poster artists were given solo exhibitions in state-run galleries. Polish poster design was becoming a source of national pride.

Polish Poster

CYRK, the First Wave of International Recognition

Poland became an autonomous Communist country in the early 1960s. The Polish agency called ZPR (Zjednoczone Przedsiębiorstwa Rozrywkowe) or United Entertainment Enterprises was placed in charge of improving and modernizing the public image of state-sponsored “Cyrk” (circus) entertainment. Rather than using traditional advertising methods to accomplish that, ZPR commissioned and permitted leading artists to create personal and responsive designs for posters. Without the restriction of having to portray the circus using literal realism, artists were free to express their own interpretations of Cyrk. The style varied by artist, but in general was similar to commercial illustration being done during the 1950s and 1960s in Europe and the United States: playful and in a cartoon-like abstraction, with loose, painterly brushwork or with painted cut paper and collaged textures. Vividly colorful designs reflected a Polish folk-art heritage.

The resulting work received wide exposure through poster competitions that attracted international entries and achieved global recognition in the field of graphic design. Cyrk posters (like most posters) used a simple primary image to send an instant message. Often it was a circus performer, a figure with a prop, or small grouping of figures in a stylized action. Polish artists complemented the images with playful typography or hand lettering integrated into the design, which typically read only the single word, CYRK.” (Source)

“Waldemar Swierzy, who has created more than 1,000 designs, brought a painterly background to poster design which shows in the wide stylistic variety of his early work. As much of the Polish Poster Art in the 1970’s did, Swierzy’s work became very illustrative and let the picture speak for itself. Swierzy’s power conies through clarity and caricature. He has the ability to capture the feel of the subject in one, succinct statement. The bete noire of Polish poster artists Franciszek Starowieyski promoted an elitist quality in his work and carefully maintained the facade of the idiosyncratic artist. That is, wrapped up in his own little world, he created posters that suited his tastes and attitudes. He didn’t mean for everyone to be able to understand his work nor freely read the text.” (Source)

At L’Affichiste we are inordinately fond of Polish posters. We like the old movie posters, we like the new exhibition posters, we like the Swierzy zoo posters … in short, we like it all! We invite you to share our enthusiasm – and we’ll even add to your collection, by giving you (for free!) a poster that we normally sell for $100. What could be better than that??