Friday, January 30, 2009

Tortured Heart

So many vintage ads for journals, literary or otherwise, are way too cutesy or boring for my taste. This little gem, however, is weird enough to tickle me happy. 

You've got some bizarre shadow-creature (complete with shadow-nipple) reaching around to strangle what can be best described as a harshly made-up transvestite with killer cleavage. Note how the heart in 'coeur' is right over where his/her heart should be--A+ for cleverness there, Mr. Mercier. 

Now, given that the story is all about jealousy, we suddenly realize the need for a chartreuse background (read: little green monster). And, you know, in the 1930s only women suffered from jealousy, so obviously the shadow-personage of Jealousy is female....but I still prefer my first, less-academic description. 

If only I had a bare wall in need of something cool to confuse my house guests. 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Les Drames de Toulouse

When our show "Toulouse-Lautrec: 100 Prints & Posters" closed a few weeks ago, I was pretty floored that this little gem hadn't been swiped up by someone fabulous.  

Okay, okay, I know--it's not the most visually appealing thing in the world, nor it is exactly on par with what most poster-people want hanging above their dining room table; however, this poster is packed with more niftiness than a 430-piece orchestra of Elvis impersonators playing "Eleanor Rigby." 

First, this is literally the only surviving complete copy of this image IN THE WORLD. That's right, for a fraction of the cost of a 3-sheet Moulin Rouge (of which there are far more than one copy), you can have yourself a one-of-a-kind work by the same artist. Ponder those bragging rights. Just ponder them. 

Second, this poster's got a story--a dirty little history, if you will. Back in the Lautrec days of absinthe and can-can girls, a Mr. Arthur Huc, editor of a little magazine called La Dépêche de Toulouse, wanted a big-name artist to help advertise a new serial-novel appearing in the publication. However, rather than pay for said artist to create the entire advertising poster, he had the brilliant idea of only commissioning Lautrec to produce the image. Later, he pasted Lautrec's hanged man onto the much larger sheet that you see here, the text provided by another, much cheaper, artist. 

Finally, the story that this poster is advertising is straight-up ballah, my friends: Set in the 18th century, it's based on the real-life Calas affair (totally worth a wikipedia if you're not already familiar with it). In it, Papa Calas, a Protestant, is on trial for the murder of his son, Calas Jr. He claims innocents; however, as the court (and most of France) was against Protestant at the time, somehow it's seen as a religious murder, Papa Calas having done his son in for wanting to convert to Catholicism. In fact, Papa was just attempting to cover up his son's suicide, not wanting the church to revoke his son's entry into heaven. Meanwhile, Voltaire (yes, the actual Voltaire) starts a campaign to free Papa Calas once he's been found guilty; however, all is too late. On March 10, 1762, Papa Calas died, tortured to death on the wheel, St. Catharine-style. His sentence was revoked 3 years later.  

Now, who doesn't want that slice of history on their livingroom wall?!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Make Way for Paté

Hopefully someone else out there read "Make Way For Ducklings" as a child and got that reference....if not, oh well. The poster doesn't even show a duck, so it's not exactly all that relevant anyway. 

Moving on, here we have a poster I love so hard. So hard is my love, in fact, that I've had it over my couch in both my London and New York residences. And no matter which side of the Atlantic it's been hung, no matter how full of other fabulous artworks my respective apartments have been, this is the framed wonder that every guest to enter my home drools over. It's just that cool. 

Here we have Mrs. Goose (well, technically Her Royal Highness, Mrs. Goose, given the crown). HRH Goose is toodling along down the street, waddling a very dignified waddle, all gilded feathers and shiny webbed toes, when suddenly she encounters an extra-large can of paté. And not just any paté, my friends, but L'oie d'Or, the veritable Queen o' Foie Gras--so royal that its got its own crown. 

At this moment, HRH Goose realizes the sad truth: her darling husband, Mr. Gander (also of HRH status) has been done in by some sick lover of paté and turned into a handsomely-packaged consumer item. Oh, the humanity! Yet, rather than bawl her little goose eyes out, she retains her nobility, jumping the entire 12-step coping process, and bows her head toward that which was her beloved Gander, acknowledging that even in death, he retains his deliciousness. 

If that's not a fabulous endorsement for paté, I'm not sure what is. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Razzia and the Art of Advertising Opens

I figure I'll start this blog by talking about the exhibition we just opened. No, it's not really of 'vintage' posters--unless, of course, you're young enough to think 1984 is already 'vintage'--but, honestly, how often do you stumble across a poster exhibition? So, even though it's not really my era of expertise, here comes my review of the International Poster Center's current show, "Razzia and the Art of Advertising":

First, let me say, I am no Razzia fan--his work, to me, comes across as dated and predictable. In his world, everyone looks like David Bowie during the Ziggy Stardust phase, and all women wear black elbow-length gloves. Therefore, I found it all-too-fitting that the young curator at the IPC decided on French rock of the mid-80s and a homemade cheesecake to set the scene for the opening reception. Cutesy? A bit. But also quite funny--it was like they were saying "we know this stuff is dated, but come on, you love the cheese of the 80s as much as we do." And really, just go into any Urban Outfitters for proof that the 80s are still kickin in the eyes of the hipsters. 

So I made my way through the crowd--which, incidentally, exuded an atmosphere like a cross between the Breakfast Club and a Bret Easton Ellis novel--overhearing artchatter and eating my rather delicious slice of cheesecake, and I realized that, despite my anti-love for Razzia, this is actually a pretty damn good show. Yes, it's steeped in nostalgia (but so's Julie Taymor's 'Across the Universe,' and you won't see me raining on that cinematic parade!); yes, it's cheesy...but it's FANTASTICALLY cheesy! If I had a billiards room or some crazy bar, I'd cover the walls with Razzia's because they pack a hyper-saturated, turquoise and magenta punch. They make me want to rock out to Rick Astley and A-Ha. Simply put, they're a fun time. And for an average price of $500 a pop, you won't find a cheaper authentic throwback that covers that much wall space anywhere else.

So, my friends, grab your aviators and spandex and head on over to the International Poster Center (601 W. 26th St., btwn 11th and 12th aves, 13th floor. NY, NY) while the show's still up. It's due to close Feb. 1, so hurry!