We love classic poster design. Antique posters from around the globe, ranging in subjects from movies to shoes, hang on our walls. Coincidentally, several feature dogs.
As graphic design, posters belong to the category of presentation and promotion, where image and word need to be economical, connected in a single meaning, and memorable. In the nineteenth century, posters were an expression of economic, social and cultural life, competing to attract consumers for goods, travel, and entertainment. Artists used color (made possible by the development of lithographic printing) and illustration to reflect the fashion of the day. Posters introduced a new aesthetic of simplified, economical images, which derived from the means of reproduction.
We built our collection through auction and poster shops from Boston to San Francisco. (check the bottom of this post for poster sources). More detail about a few of our posters and the artists who created them follows –
Bally: Pierre Augsburger
Pierre AUGSBURGER was born 1933, studied graphic design at what is now the Basel School of Design in Switzerland, and became the in-house graphic artist for the Swiss shoe manufacturer Bally. For his most beautiful posters for Bally, Augsburger received various awards. After then studying in Paris for a time, he worked for Ringier (the now giant Swiss media company) before founding his own graphic studio in Basel, which he maintained until 1978.
Pathé Marconi: Barnard Villemot
Bernard Villemot (1911-1989) is regarded as one of the finest post-war French graphic designers. Greatly influenced by the Bauhaus, he worked with clean lines and abstract and large blocks of color. Villemot began his career as an artist for the French Government creating posters for the Red Cross, Days of Free French Forces, and the French Mutual. In 1947, he began to make his first commercial posters. He is very well known for his work with Bally. Villemot began his relationship with Bally in 1967 and continued with the company for 22 years. Other long-term clients included Bergasol, Orangina, Perrier and Air France.
Pathé: AM Cassandre
A. M. Cassandre (1901-1968) was born in the Ukraine to French parents. As a young man he moved to Paris to study at Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Julian. Cassandre loved the concept of advertising posters and worked with many poster printing houses. Cassandre’s innovative clean style was inspired by the work of the Cubists and the Surrealists. In 1925, Cassandre designed a poster for a cabinetmaker that won first prize at the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, firmly establishing him as a poster artist of merit. Cassandre also became financially successful and was able to open his own advertising agency under the name “Alliance Graphique.” Among his best-known clients was the wine maker “Dubonnet.” During WWII, Cassandre served in the army until the fall of France. At that point, his business was ruined and he suffered from major depression. He did do some significant work in stage set designs and returned to easel painting but his most memorable work from this period was the well-known Yves Saint-Laurent logo. Cassandre ended his own life in 1968.
Le Frou – Frou: Lucien-Henri Weiluc
Lucien Henri Weil (called Weiluc) (French, 1873 – 1947). We don’t know much about Weiluc, but we love the poster we have that was based on an original etching by the artist.
Manhattan, Japanese 1979
This is an amazing piece, printed on rice paper with color silk-screened text (in Japanese) on the original-run U.S. black and white poster. The design is made up of a memorable cinema logo, and a wonderful image of Allen and Diane Keaton.
Broadway Danny Rose, French 1984
This is a French poster announcing the “New Woody Allen Film.” This poster is a really fun version of the movie poster from the U.S. release. The image depicts Allen and Mia Farrow tied up behind the open door to Allen’s character’s office door (a scene that never actually took place in the movie – on screen, the two were tied up while on the run in New Jersey, not in Danny Rose’s Manhattan office). The door was the main image on all U.S. posters, but we really like the French version of the poster.
The Importance of Properly Preserving the Art
Reputable poster sources will have a grading scale for the condition of the art. Original poster art should always be professionally mounted on linen. Paper and mounting board will dramatically reduce the value of the art and will damage a poster – which is an important piece of history! Conservation glass (which is coated with a special material that filters out 95%+ of UV rays) is also critical, since UV light is what causes fading of matting and artwork.
- Graphic Design: A Concise History, by Richard Hollis
- The Modern Poster: The Museum of Modern Art, New York, by Stuart Wrede
- Film Posters of the Russian Avant-Garde, by Susan Pack
- Stenberg Brothers: Constructing a Revolution in Soviet Design: The Museum of Modern Art, New York, by Christopher Mount
- The Beggerstaff Posters, by Colin Campbell
- Posters, by Paul Hamlyn