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POSTER OF THE MONTH

 vintage art nouveau poster Chap Book 1896
Frank Hazenplug
20 1/2" x 14 1/4"
A-, L


The Chap Book was a fortnightly magazine devoted to ambitious literature. It had a brief moment in the sun, between 1894 and 1898. Based in Chicago, it placed a premium on subjects urban and urbane, and being too heavy for mass popularity.
The lithographic covers--also produced, as our example, here, as promotional posters for the publishers--bristle with a sense of avant-garde specialness. One of the most remarkable of the graphic artists was Frank Hazenplug (1873-1931), our Poster of the Month practitioner today. His exceptional evocation from 1896 not only takes a pulse that could have appeared in 1996, but follows through with chromatic and compositional fire to incisively convey a wild and sterling campaign.
First of all, the lady's apparel and her hair-style is out to eclipse "clowns," specifically, colorless men (here the travesty of men running the show in 1896). Her Nietzshean will-to-power radiates from that thunder-and-lightning gown. She swishes by, like the baddest badass en route to an Oscar. Her world, it is maintained, is new and triumphant. Lovely and heady stuff. And though the cliches of feminism and brave-new-world are part-and-parcel of the present day, that would in fact be the facile, nostalgic fairy tale of pace-setting, Victorian-era vision. These days, the complementary factor of will-to-power (namely, eternal-return-of-the-same) has its innings and its complication and its own--less flashy--highway of delight.

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