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POSTER OF THE MONTH - January 2018

vintage sports poster Finland Winter Sports 1949
O.K. Oksanen
39 ¼” x 24”
Although skiing dominates in this Poster of the Month, it seems to me that the delivery of this vintage lithograph looks elsewhere. Those cozy mittens on the bamboo poles reveal a double-duty revelling in the ordinary--in marked contrast to the genre's bids to blow your mind.
The year is 1949, and Finland had just emerged from horrors of World War II even more complicated than other European lands. Its nightmare began with, in 1939, the invasion of the Soviet Union (intent, as often, to swallow Finland--a drama having nothing to do [but distraction] about the core of the War). The Finns managed to block that opportunism; but for the long haul, regarding the Russian bear, they joined the German Axis enterprise, becoming dependent upon it for weaponry, manpower and food. After the War, Finland was nailed with heavy reparation costs, being one of the losing combatants.
In that light, the skiers do not purport to be Olympians, but rather ordinary folks able to be (somewhat) carefree again. In the distance, a far from Orient Express dazzlement of a train chugs along at an easy-going rate. Though the typography is at a register of unremarkable modernism, the color scheme--braced by first-rate lithography--shows a bit of excitement. The prominence of blue and white in this design reflects the Finnish flag and speaks to a population having had to shift allegiances in order to survive (a very different engagement from the neutrality of the Swedes [an option being savaged by the recent film, The Square]). The golden touches perhaps deal with that complicated survival. That the skiers have negotiated a dangerous precipice could be part of this move to the "ordinary."

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POSTER OF THE MONTH - February 2018

vintage deco French rail poster Route des Alpes c.1928
Dric (Roger Broders)
39 3/4" x 24 3/4"
Two forces collide in this rare and sterling French vintage poster from the Pre-Depression-Era. Spearheaded by that angry eagle, there is the harsh beauty of the high-Alpine region. Its nature would be decidedly about primordial and solitary coming-to-pass. On the other hand, affluent "pace-setters" twig on to (at that time) flashy technology in order to be among the first to the top.
Having, until recently, that domain all to itself, the big bird not only sniffs out aliens but also their unsuitableness to the pristine presence. And, with this, we have the question, "Did the eagle get it right?" (Of course the artistry--probably by the supernal, Roger Broders--is first-rate. The composition is ignited by the menacing and magnificent live-wire defending its stalk-still and perfect homeland--almost coming to bear as a chromatically-balanced coat-of-arms.)
The two Hummers with their jaunty pennants on the fenders suggest a military assault. But the prim customers are far from soldiers. Could at least a few of them be testing themselves for hard days ahead? Does the eagle see that, regardless of that, they aren't up to the long haul?

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vintage French movie poster Quartier Latin 1939
Roger Rojac
62 1/8" x 46 1/4"
A-, L
Let's forget about the goofy, black and white melodrama pertaining to those central characters in this dazzling vintage lithographic movie poster we have on tap as today's Poster of the Month! The graphic treasure, the locale and the date (1939), are all we need!
That venerable and endlessly important structure in the background is the Paris version of the Pantheon, an edifice for the sake of paying homage to invention in art and science, and the place where a number of august figures have been buried. Juxtaposed in front is a very lively scene. The area in central Paris being shown was, at the time of the poster's appearance, the main centre of university and bohemian life.
This ebullient scene has endowed to us the specifics of reflective expression on the eve of World War II. Everyone in sight is touched by the spirit of innovation in its various forms, pushing along a concomitant of chic. Thereby the positioning of the figures offers to us a pantheon in itself of up-to-the-minute Paris magic and depth. Self-confidence and joie de vivre is everywhere! The Latin, old-timey scholarship, of the district is seen here getting a bemusing face-lift. And, in a matter of months, the pride would have turned to fear and death.
What a dazzling design tracing ranges of headway (however deluded, in part) that perpetually find ways to regroup!

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vintage French sports poster Vichy 1948
Paul Colin
39” x 24 ½”
A-, L

The great Paul Colin's vintage poster for the convalescent spa, Vichy, in 1948 (very close, then, to its tenure as the headquarters of keeping the French populace in line during the days when the German military ruled the proverbial roost), is, first of all, a graphic design master's clinic in rich simplicity.
Let's start with that lyre, chording so well with the dark blue expanse. The vignettes seem to be entangled in it, as if they were functioning in prison playground. There is a rather urgent, red facsimile of the facility's race track. It could be showing someone breaking away from the entanglement.The imagery, though predominantly bent on fun, comes to us as rather joyless and tense. Just as the contrasting white tennis ball, in the nighttime range, appears to be beyond the woman's reach (or is it a flubbed drive by the golfer?), there is the other instance of the hand holding what appears to be far from a joyous beverage, seeming a French prerogative. The mineral springs of the Vichy region had been for many years prior to the War a place of restoring flagging sensibility. Is Colin betting on verve, or more of the wartime dispiritedness? That the restorative action only comprises the period May to October may alert us to a less than full-fledged drive to overcome doldrums.
It is unlikely that the average viewer of this work would find anything amiss here. The lyre would strike them as promising some fine classical concerts, some fun in the park and a shot of go-juice. Colin, the owner of a reflective design profit centre, seems to be speaking to a wide and diverse clientele.

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