September 20, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Dear Clients and Friends, Poster Collectors, Ephemera Fans,
I hope you are enjoying this incredible Indian Summer. As Northern Californians, of course you know that fall is right on its tail. In just a few short days, the sun will set earlier, the leaves will start to turn on your apple trees, and all of a sudden, your thoughts will turn from spending time outdoors to spending time in your home.
It’s time to feather your nest. Add things to your walls that make it a nicer place to come home to, a nicer place to entertain in. Just in time, we announce our September Pop- Up Weekend.
Please join us this weekend September 24-25 at our Berkeley showroom for what we are calling “French Treat” a special feature of Food and Wine Posters. Our entire collection will also be available for your perusal, and we are always prepared to help you design the perfect frame for your purchase.
The shop is open only one weekend per month, so now is your chance to come and choose the perfect thing to spruce up your nest for the holidays and the winter months. Frames designed this weekend will be completed by November 1, well in time for the winter holidays.
You can shop our collection any time at www.vepca.com, but seeing the posters in person is the best way to fall in love with your next piece of original artwork. I hope you’ll join us for a toast this weekend! Sponsored by wine.com
With Every Good Wish,
Elizabeth, Charly, Karlie and Candie
The VEP Crew
September Pop-Up Weekend
Saturday September 24 from 11-6
Sunday, September 25 from 11-5
2201 Fourth Street (corner of Allston)
Berkeley, CA 94710
Also open by appointment
September 3, 2011 § 3 Comments
Among poster artists, only a few have had a career as long and prolific as Rene Gruau’s. From the beginning of his career in the 1920′s to the year of his death in 2004, Gruau never ceased to draw and work, leaving an oeuvre of “chic” posters encompassing the best of the old world’s fashion style.
Gruau was born in Italy in 1909 , with an Italian father and a French mother. His father was an aristocrat, withgreat expectations for his young son: he wanted him to be a diplomat and resented his son’s passion for drawing. But Gruau followed his elegant mother – his first model — a jetsetter, traveler and fashionista, throughout Italy and then to Paris. Of his mother the artist said “My mother was mad about travel, so I began to wander all over the world before I learned to walk” and “I feel I owe my calling as a draftsman to my mother.” She introduced him to painters and fashion magazine editors who encouraged him to pursue his craft. At 15, thanks to his mother, her friends and his own talent, Rene Gruau already had a promising career as a fashion illustrator awaiting him.
During the post-war period, he reached the summit of his career as he worked with the most brilliant fashion designers such as Dior, Givenchy and Lanvin, and high class music-halls such as the Moulin Rouge and the Lido — clients whom he continued to work with later on.
Gruau was a man of the world and of many skills: an illustrator and a poster artist, he also sold paintings, designed costumes and stage sets, and even created his own collection of clothing in 1948-49. In Gruau’s many and varied works, one thing always shone through: his style — a notion he strongly defended at a time when the use of photography in advertising threatened poster artists.
One of the main characteristics of Gruau’s style is the importance he puts on what he calls “la ligne” (the line) — as the line that forms his star-topped signature — a concept reminiscent of Cappiello, whom Gruau greatly admired, and his “arabesque.” La ligne is this one brush stroke that defines an image, gives it its movement, its structure, its style. In Rouge Baiser for example, it’s the delicate profile of the woman: one single line encapsulating all the feminity and refinment of a red lipstick.
For Gruau, a line also often implies a movement. Therefore, throughout his long career, Gruau always made a point of working with models, refusing to create pure paper beings. The artist based a lot of his creations on his models’ movements, attitudes, expressions. Because for Gruau a poster should have ‘a strong personality’ and because, to him, drawing was so much about style, he chose his models very carefully. Some of the most elegant ladies of the time, such as Nitzah Bricard, Dior’s muse, or the model Bettina Graziani, posed for him.
Another noticeable quality of Gruau’s work is his clever and varied use of perspective and composition. Using high angles, low angles and negative space, he creates images that naturally attract the eye. For Ortalion stockings, he draws a beautiful woman, looking down at the viewer from almost outside of the poster, playfully daring him to look up her dress and attracting his attention to her long legs, wrapped in bright red stockings. The diagonal created by the model’s legs directs the eye both to the product and its name.
For the Dior campaign, Gruau creates a frame in the poster itself and encloses the Dior man between two dark panels, reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints. By doing so and throwing light over the naked character, Gruau playfully invites the viewer to intrude upon the model’s intimacy, and gives him the delightful thrill of being a voyeur — and getting a peek at the product.
Most importantly perhaps, what defines Gruau’s style is his use of colors, generally three: black, white and a third — red. This sacrosant trio’s symbolic is obviously highly charged, but Gruau’s reason for choosing those colors might have to be sought somewhere else… Before becoming a poster artist, Gruau was an illustrator : he made his debut drawing for newspapers and magazines, which often meant drawing in black — and using the white of the paper as a color — sometimes adding one color. Red is the color our eye perceives the most rapidly, an undeniable advantage for advertisement. Gruau himself personally liked red but also insisted on the fact that it is a color that always reproduces well, even on ordinary paper.
There lies Gruau’s talent as a poster artist: Gruau always worked with, and not against, the technicalities of his trade. Even his simple lines and broad brush strokes were not only a mark of his style, but also designed to be reproduced easily and in a great number. Working and sketching endlessly, Gruau thus strove to make his designs as simple as possible, to only keep the essential, the quintessential idea, that was to finally come like a sneeze (“un éternuement,” in Gruau’s own words). Sometimes that idea was an elegant line, sometimes it was a smart design, as in the Bemberg fabric’s campaign, with bikers to advertise the fabric’s strength and an acrobat to advertise its flexibility.
If you want to get a better idea of Gruau’s brilliant career, come to our showroom in Berkeley or to one of our upcoming shows. You can also visit our website to see our extensive collection of fashion and cosmetics posters, and compare Gruau’s style to his contemporaries, Villemot and Savignac.Sources: “L’Art de la Plublicité — The Art of Advertising: Rene Gruau,” by Réjane Bargiel and Sylvie Nissen. Published by Le Cherche Midi Editeur in 1999. This blog post authored by VEP Intern Candie Sanderson Student at La Sorbonne Nouvelle Edited by Itinerant Poster Collector and VEP Owner Elizabeth Norris
August 26, 2011 § 1 Comment
Today we feature the posters of another great poster artist: Guy Georget, and one who deserves more attention from connoisseurs of the travel and product posters.
We have combed our shop library of poster books and found no biography of Guy Georget. Google yields nothing, and even our French Auction sites are mum about the man who created some of our favorite posters, beyond his birth and death dates (1911-1992). Another proof of the fact that poster artists were most often considered mere “ad men” and not true artists. Since an “imaginary life of Guy Georget” hasn’t come out yet, let’s focus on what we do know – his work!
Georget’s first commercial posters appear in the late 1940s. Hired by the tourist boards, the artist produced posters tempting people to visit Spain in which you see the influence of Picasso and Georges Braque.
Looking at the artist’ work s from this period, one is struck by his sense of composition and perspective, and his rather classical choice of subjects. His “España” from c.1950 poster looks a lot like a still life, with rather emblematic objects of that specific genre – fruits, amphora. However, after a closer look, some signs of his later style can be found in the geometric design of the fan, the yellow of the lemon.
In 1960, Georget was awarded a plum which would please any graphic artist – he was selected to design the logo of France’s venerable Postal Service “La Poste”
During this period, he also worked for Air France, another prestigious post for graphic artists of the time.
We have sold Georget’s work spanning a 3 decades the 1940s, the 1950s and the 1960s. During those years, his style evolved from traditional to fun and light hearted. If you look at his work chronologically, you will see how his style became more graphic, his lines bolder, his colors brighter. His “Mexico” poster for Air France from 1963 flirts with cubism. The white outline around the character and the palm leaf makes it appear almost as a collage. The result is a bright, attractive image, evoking Mexico’s sunny weather, folklore and exoticism.
A talented graphic artist to must be “au courant” — on the cutting edge of new trends, of the evolution of art and perception: by adapting his style to his time, Georget managed to keep his clients’ image modern and attractive, and proved his talent as a poster artist.
Speaking of “au courant,” look at how Georget reflects the best of the post-war style in his poster for philips, where lightbulbs go on strike.
If you want to see more Guy Georget posters, come to our showroom in Berkeley or to one of our upcoming shows. You can also visit our website to see our extensive collection of original travel posters from 1880 to 1970.Sources: “Air France Posters: Making the World Dream” by Calvet and Thibault. Publisher: Le Cherche Midi. 2006. This blog post co-authored by VEP Intern Candie Sanderson Student at La Sorbonne Nouvelle And Vintage European Posters’ Owner Elizabeth Norris
August 2, 2010 § 2 Comments
One of the most common questions people ask us is “How did so many posters survive?” Of course the other question we hear all the time is “Don’t your arms hurt?” (from flipping posters.) I’ll come back to the second question later.
Posters survived because of collectors. From my experience, there are two types of collectors. Hoarders, and cataloguers. We need both. Here at VEP, we are cataloguers. We collect, we restore, we document, we research, and we sell these treasures. I have, over the years bought from a lot of hoarders. Thank god for them!
Hoarders are great collectors, and they don’t feel the need to organize. Amazingly, most of them know exactly what they have and where to find it. Some are not willing to part with anything, and some won’t show you the extent of their collections. The key in my job is finding hoarders who will part with their goodies!
I managed to sort through about 5,000 posters on my last trip. They are stored in a basement in France, with bits of the ceiling slowly disintegrating onto the piles and rolls. There is little ventilation, and no discernable order to things. There is no way to get these posters other than good old fashioned digging. Careful digging, because they are fragile, but digging nonetheless. I brought home with me 70 plus pieces, and they are now in the competent hands of our linen backer, where they will be washed and mounted just in time for our 12th Annual Preview Show at Fort Mason, which will be held August 19-22. http://eventful.com/sanfrancisco/events/12th-annual-vintage-/E0-001-032070059-7@2010082010
The only way for you to see these goodies is to 1) come to the show August 20-22 and see them in person or 2) wait until after the show, and what remains, we will load onto the web.
As for the answer to the other question- No! Our arms don’t hurt. On the final day of any show, maybe our feet do, but you won’t find us complaining.
May 7, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Art Nouveau and Belle Epoque
The first advertising posters were created in the latter half of the 19th century by Jules Cheret (France 1836-1932). Cheret studied lithography in Britain, and then brought it back to France where he used it to create big, beautiful advertisements, a new application for this printing medium. He soon had his own printing house, Atelier Chaix, where he trained artists and draughtsman to make posters. The early posters fit into the category of Art Nouveau- a style characterized by flowing lines and ornamentation and Belle Epoque, which captured the joie de vivre of turn of the century Paris This style of poster – beautiful , sometimes whimsical, but always detailed, dominated until just after 1900.
Cappiello and the Art Deco PeriodLeonetto Cappiello (Italy 1875-1942) arrived in Paris from Italy in the late 1890’s. As a young man, he had studied fine art, but dabbled in caricatures. The techniques he learned from these quickly rendered, witty portraits prepared him to make distinctive posters. Cappiello created his first poster in 1899, and soon developed an unmistakable style. His posters feature single figures on solid color backgrounds, and they
marry image with topic seamlessly. Cappiello understood that a poster had only a second to reach out and catch your eye, and to leave a lasting impression. (See Cappiello’s “Cachou Lajaunie” and “Maurin Quina”) Because of this, he is sometimes referred to as ‘the father of modern advertising’.
Cappiello worked in the yet unnamed Art Deco Style. Art Deco dominated design and art in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but wasn’t referred to as ‘Art Deco’ until the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs held in Paris in 1925. The style used high contrast color, and from a design standpoint, elevated objects (such as radios and automobiles) to things of beauty. (See “La Bouille Soliel”, “Pelican Cigarettes”, “Porto Ramos Pinto”). These images are unforgettable, as Art Deco was first truly graphic style represented in posters.