June 13, 2011 § 1 Comment
Early Commercial Air Travel
In today’s fast-paced world, we think nothing of scheduling a morning meeting 500 miles away with the intention of being home in time for supper. We take fast, cheap air travel for granted. It wasn’t always like this. In fact, a mere 75 years ago, the first passenger flights from San Francisco to Hong Kong took 3 days and cost $950 one way — the equivalent of $14,000 in today’s dollars.
Early long distance flights in the late 20’s and early 30’s were solely mail routes. In the U.S., Pan Am delivered the international mail and established routes, hubs, airports, pilots — creating the infrastructure upon which commercial aviation would later grow. Pan Am’s leader, Juan Trippe, thought he could increase profits by transporting a few passengers along with the mail and soon the Pan Am Clippers, also known as ‘flying boats,’ established regular passenger routes across the Pacific. This revolutionized travel: trips which had previously taken one month by ship, were accomplished by plane in a couple of days.
But travel wasn’t glamorous yet. A flight from Paris to New York was a twenty hour trip with two stops to refuel. The Clippers were twin engine planes and they could carry only 20 passengers. Because of this, travel posters in this time period suggest a sense of adventure — destinations were exotic, and the traveler was a pioneer.
Pan Am pressed on, and in 1942 they were the first airline to operate a commercial route circumnavigating the globe with stops ineight cities. Most commercial development came to a halt during WWII, as many of the big planes were pressed into service of the war. Their sole purpose was to carry military brass, soldiers, mail, supplies and munitions overseas. In fact, travel for leisure was discouraged as a waste of resources during wartime.
Aviation was a huge part of WWII, both for transport and for combat. Squadrons of fighter jets helped win the war, but they also successfully trained pilots, advanced aviation technology and cemented routes which could be built on in the postwar period.
The Postwar Period
After World War II, TWA, United, Pan Am and American, battled to dominate transatlantic and transcontinental flights. Technological and marketing advances such as pressurized cabins (1940), the invention of “Ocean Liners for the Skies” aka Coach Class (1944) and Jet Engines (1958) made travel more comfortable, more affordable and faster. Finally, the world was open to everyone. In 1946, TWA joined Pan Am as a provider of international service with flights to Cairo, and soon after, flights to Bombay and Ceylon. Meanwhile TWA and United expanded their intercontinental routes. In 1946, the trip from coast to coast took 10 hours, with one stop to refuel in Nebraska. In 1953 TWA offered the first non-stop service from NY to California.
The travel posters from this time period reflect the sheer joy of travel and they were incredibly effective. Travel by air caught on. In 1958 more than 1 million passengers flew to Europe – for the first time overtaking the number who ‘crossed the pond’ by ocean line. By 1968, Transatlantic air travel had increased to six million passengers. The chance to see the world, a luxury once only available to the elite, was now accessible to the masses in the post war period.
Airlines and boards of tourism poured money into their ad campaigns, as they tried to capture a slice of the tourist’s heart and therefore their dollars. Artists such as Guy Georget and Jean Carlu for Air France, (Air France French Riviera photo) David Klein for TWA (Las Vegas photo) and Stan Galli for United produced seductive images of faraway places to entice the viewer to choose their next holiday. Most of the posters were discarded and as a result,those that survived are highly sought after by collectors today.
The Art of the Airways by Geza Szurovy (2002) MBI Publishing
Air France Posters Making the World Dream by Louis-Jean Calvet & Philippe Thibault (2006) pub Le Cherche Midi
This is a reprint from an article published in Los Angeles Modernism Show‘s catalogue of April 3o – May 1, 2011
May 7, 2011 § 2 Comments
Early cigarette advertising posters mainly feature rolling papers. Smokers purchased their tobacco and rolled their own.
This image by Jules Cheret (1836-1932) was created in 1895 and boasted that Job cigarette papers had won awards at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1889. That was an important World’s Fair for many reasons, and because of it we have Gustav Eiffel’s Tower. The redhead in the poster was emblematic of Cheret’s Belle Epoque style; he captures a ‘Modern’ women displaying her independence by smoking! Other clues to her modernity include her red rinsed hair and her posture of independence. Cheret also loved to depict women in his posters twisting at the waist to showcase their corsetted midriff. He used this image as plate number one in his Maitre de L’Affiche series.
Francesco Tamagno (1853-1933) captures another turn of the century beauty in his poster for the breath mint Cachou Lajaunie circa 1890. This mint, which you can still buy in France today, was often advertised to smokers, inferring that it’s strength would cover up smokers’s breath. The red haired, wasp waisted figure seems to be flirting with the various gentlemen in the poster, and perhaps their fresh breath will influence her choice of a suitor.
Le Nil cigarette papers were manufactured by the Joseph Bardou Company. This company was owned by one of the sons of the JOB cigarette paper brand. Le Nil had used a white elephant in their posters before (supposedly a white elephant with its trunk uplifted symbolizes good luck) so Cappiello (1875-1942) decided to stick with their ‘brand’ when he created this luciously colored poster in 1912.
Cigarettes Saphir by Stephano features an exotic woman with a Hookah surrounded by curls of smoke.
She advertises a machine rolled cigarette, which would have been a luxury product in 1908 when most smokers still rolled their own. This poster has elements of Art Nouveau style, such as curvy lines and ornamentation, but the artists use of color and contrast show the poster moving towards art deco.
This Pelican Cigarettes poster, circa 1925, by Charles Yray, features tobacco from Virginia packaged in a beautiful Art Deco style tin. Tobacco from Virginia would have been a very special export in France in the 1920s. This poster is quintessentially art deco- Yray’s use of high contrast images and bold colors make the poster pop, and the reverse silhouette is a satisfying part of the design.
Smoking was still in fashion in the 1920s. The woman in the Cachou Lajaunie Poster asserts her independence with her saucy feathered (?) dress, her tobacco habit and her choice of mint. Choosing Cachou Lajaunie allows her to smoke AND to attract suitors. In a twist from the 1890′s poster, she is no longer offering the mint to smokers and would be suitors, SHE is now the smoker.
In The ‘Bonnes Lunettes’ Poster, the smoker has assumed the persona of the cool beatnik “You can see clearly when you wear good glasses” is what the poster says. But it infers smoky jazz clubs, where your vision is clouded by the smoky haze of cocktails.
I will end this post with ‘Cachou Lajaunie’ by Cappiello. This striking poster features a ‘modern’ woman circa 1920. How do we know she is modern? Three clues- her red rinsed hair, her modern attire, and the fact that she is smoking! All of these things suggest independence.
Since I have quit smoking, that makes me independent too. Cheers!
March 7, 2011 § Leave a Comment
WORLD WAR ONE
The most popular depiction of women in the World War One poster is as Columbia, the feminine symbol of America. (The name Columbia is derived from Christopher Columbus).
She is seen often draped in the American flag, personifying liberty, justice, virtue, and as a source of inspiration. In the WWI Poster, women are rarely shown in uniform or even at work. This is does not reflect the fact that 30,000 American women served in World War One.
For the duration of WWI, women served as nurses in Belgium, Italy and England and many were decorated for their service. American women also worked overseas during the war in a volunteer capacity. On the home front, women contributed their labor to greatly to the YWCA, the Red Cross, Salvation Army and other Service Organizations.
WORLD WAR TWO
The scale of World War II led to a change in US women’s roles very quickly. Almost 16 million soldiers left civilian jobs to join the military, leaving behind jobs unfilled, and creating new jobs in transport and maintenance of the vast armed force.
In 1941, Congress created the Women’s Army Auxillary Corps to augment the armed forces. The theory was that every woman who served would ‘free a man for combat’. WAACS trained as radio and telephone operators, operated the army postal services, did clerical work and taught.
All in all, 150,000 women served in the WAACs during WWII. It is not surprising though, that women were treated as separate and not equal to men. Although they received food, housing, uniforms and medical care (an improvement over WWI) their pay was less than men of the same rank. When WAACS served overseas, they received no overseas pay, no veterans medical coverage, no life insurance or death benefits.
Gone are the images of women draped in flags. Women in the WWII poster are active participants, in uniform, ready for action.
Nurses in WWII
As in World War I, the role of women as nurses in WWII was critical. In 1941 there were fewer than 1,000 women in the Army Nurse Corps. By the end of the war a total of 59,000 women served as nurses in the military. To achieve such staggering growth the government enlisted the help of the Red Cross and launched a widespread recruiting campaign.
A shortage of nurses both abroad an on the home front led Congress to pass the Bolton act, which set up the Cadet Nurse Corps and subsidized the training of nurses. This successful program trained 150,000 nurses between 1943 and 1948.
Today, the nation debates whether women should participate in combat in the Middle East. Regardless of your position on this topic, you must admit we’ve come a long way since 1915.
To read more about women’s roles in US Miltary history, please visit http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/wac/wac.htm
February 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Propaganda and Advertising Posters reflect and magnify the attitudes of the time period and cultures from which they come. In honor of black history month, here are some images that depict people of African origin from key periods of poster art, the turn of the century, the Art Deco period of the 1920s and 1930s and the post war period. I will let the images speak for themselves.
Bernard Villemot, one of the great French post war poster designers, captures a multi colored world in his posters
December 16, 2010 § Leave a Comment
One of the features of many posters is ‘new’. The poster is, after all, advertising and ‘new’ or ‘new improved’ is a selling point in many company’s bag of tricks.
Part of what’s fun about looking at a collection of original vintage posters is seeing how products that we take for granted, things we can’t live without, were once novel inventions.
Lamp oil is an example of a product which was around for years, and civilized people depended on it to light their work places, their homes, the streets, their salons, restaurants and cafes. Posters for lamp oil rarely say ‘new’ instead they focus on ‘award winning’ or ‘rose tinted’ ’hygenic’ and other qualities which serve to distinguish one brand from another.
With the invention of electric light, posters for lamp oil virtually disapeared.
Mankind has always been curious, and this is what has led to our ingenuity. Staying on top of technology is, today marketed as being clever, hip even. Take at look at these posters and realize that marketing a product to the consumer as ‘au courant’ is not so new in advertising.