August 24, 2012 § 1 Comment
The greatest thing about collecting original posters is how much we get to learn about 19th and 20th century history just by soaking up these colorful collectibles. I recently found a Menthe Pastille poster by Eugene Oge which struck me as just such an opportunity to learn more about the period leading up to World War I. It is uncommon for a poster artisit to uses political humour in an advertising poster—politics can be too controversial, and might alienate the consumer from a brand, but in this example, Oge does a great job creating caricatures of the world’s leaders.
The poster from 1904 shows a total of 13 figures, each representing something different and interacting together to show political situations in Europe. They sit at a table with a tablecloth decorated with the large text of “La Menthe-Pastille.” All the figures look as if they are in peaceful talks with each other. On the left, Oge depicts William II serving a drink to the Japanese Emperor, Matsuhito. In the foreground, the Emperor of France is being comforted about his inability to produce a male heir. The Japanese Emperor stands behind the Emperor of France, even though they are enemies, but the Emperor of France does not seem concerned. In the middle of the table, the newly chosen Catholic Pope puts his arm around King Emmanuel III of Rome. Next to King Emmanuel III on the right is Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom, who smokes and gazes at the globe that the man on his right, Jacques Lebaudy, gazes at as well. Behind those two figures is Leopold II of Belguim at an image of his “muse” Cleo de Merode. Next, to the right, is Alfonso XIII who sits regally, wearing his crown, as he recently was coronated King of Spain. Lastly, below him sits Uncle Sam with a small African American baby on his lap.
In the 1913 poster, the figures are fewer, and some major players in the European situation are either out of power or not longer alive. Only 10 people now populate the poster. **Those missing are Emile Loubet, the French Emperor, and two people who had since died: Edward VII and Leopold II. The situation is much more tense here, and inflammatory situations are shown here that La Menthe-Pastille, William II tries to become allies with the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet V. In the center of the poster, the Kaiser Frederic William, plays with three small childlike figures who represent the Kings of Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece. This poster again tells people to drink La Menthe Pastille to inject tranquility and ease into their lives, but in 1913, the statement is more adamant.
* Eugene Oge: Affichiste , Anne-Claude Lelieur et Raymond Bachollet, published 1998 by Agence Culturelle de Paris. p. 214-215)
** Eugene Oge: Affichiste , Anne-Claude Lelieur et Raymond Bachollet, published 1998 by Agence Culturelle de Paris.pages 224-225)
This post was written by Karlie Drutz, San Francisco State Museum Studies Student and VEP intern and Elizabeth Norris, Owner, Vintage European Posters.
See our entire collection of original vintage posters from Europe and the United States at www.vepca.com or visit us on Tuesdays or by appointment at our Berkeley Showroom 2201 Fourth Street in Berkeley, CA
August 7, 2012 § Leave a Comment
At our Pop-Up show this past weekend, I had the pleasure of flipping the pile for a woman who was full of stories. As we worked our way through the small pile, we came across a poster for TWA, which led us to a discussion about the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport. I had never seen pictures of it, but the client I was working with assured me that it was worth seeing. She was right.
As I began reseraching the terminal and the history of TWA’s travel posters, I was intrigued by the ways in which aviation and travel posters have changed over the years.
At the start of the 20th century when the airplane was a novel technology, most travel posters were focused on the planes themselves. It was the novelty of the technology, and the broad implications that the power of flight held both for speedy travel and military potential, that were glorified in these early posters. As aviation technology became more familiar and the flights became longer, it became increasingly important for posters to emphasize the comfort level of the planes.
Between the 1930’s and the 1960’s, travel posters began to focus more on destinations, rather than the planes themselves. This genre of destination poster saw its peak during the 1960’s, at the height of the Jet Age, and it was during this decade that architect Eero Sarrinen designed the famous TWA Terminal at JFK.
According to the architect, the curvilinear structure was meant to be an “icon of both modern air travel and modern design,” and an abstract symbol of flight. Sarrinen wanted it to be “a building in which the architecture itself would express the drama and specialness and excitement of travel,” and the curved shapes were meant to “emphasize an upward-soaring quality of line.”
So while the TWA posters of the 1960’s focused on destinations far and wide, the company chose to have the terminal glorify and honor the flight itself. Together they make a perfect pair, both destination and transportation.
The terminal was closed in 2001 after American Airlines bought out TWA, but has recently been restored to its former glory – complete with orange carpets!
The glamour of the Jet Age may have passed, but Saarinen’s beautiful building lives on in memory of an age when boarding a plane was an event and advertisements for TWA were pure works of art.
Written by Emily Jackson, Media Intern Vintage European Posters
Edited by Elizabeth Norris, Owner Vintage European Posters
Established 1997, Member IVPDA
2201 Fourth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
510 843 2201
October 31, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Posters sometimes elicit a strong reaction.
A beautiful image can make a client sigh, inadvertently. Clown posters actually
make some people jump out of their skin! WWI and WWII posters make some people
tear up. Until recently, I had never had a poster that elicited a chill.
Check out the General Dynamics Posters by Erik Nitsche. These rare Swiss posters were printed in the 1950s, to make people comfortable with the forward science of nuclearpower. Each poster says “Atoms for Peace”
in a different language.
Now if that isn’t propaganda, I don’t know what is. And these Cold War era posters do elicit a chill.
Recently, we had a man in our shop who was fascinated with
the ‘Nucleo Dynamics poster. When he left the store, he dug a little
deeper. Here is what he told us:
“As I had suspected, the arrangement of squares is a chopped
up (and incomplete) chart of the nuclides, which is a representation of the
different isotopes of every element. (Like a periodic table for nuclear
physicists.) One axis is the atomic number of the atom and the other is
the atomic weight (allowing differentiation of carbon-12 and carbon-14, for
example, or uranium-235 and 238).
The top section is the light elements, with hydrogen on the left to about neon
on the right. The middle section is much heavier atoms, from (I think)
tin on the left to somewhere in the lanthanide elements on the right. The
bottom section is the heaviest and least stable elements (or at least the
heaviest known in 1955). This terminus represented the focus of a great
deal of research, especially in 1955.
One other thing I should mention is that the coloring is not incidental.
The light blue squares denote stable isotopes. The other colors are all
unstable and therefore radioactive isotopes. The particular color for
each one tells more information about either the type of decay or the
half-life. Note that the heaviest elements (the bottom patch)
contain no stable (blue) isotopes.”
And this is why we love our clients. We share what we know about posters, and they
share what they know about the world. In
the end, we all end up enriched, a little smarter and a little more in touch
with history. Bravo!
Geek out with VEP at the next LA Trunk Show “Posters for
Peace” November 12-13, 2011 at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
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!