Another day, another Elvis. I promise you we only have two in the auction--this will be the last time you see his mug on my blog....ok, maybe there's one more, but who knows if I'll blog it.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Another day, another Elvis. I promise you we only have two in the auction--this will be the last time you see his mug on my blog....ok, maybe there's one more, but who knows if I'll blog it.
While naked Elvis praying to the Virgin looked like he'd just jumped out of a Gidget movie, this Elvis is a little worse for wear. Here is the bloated Vegas Elvis of paintings-on-velvet fame.
Look at that pudgy, creased face; those squinty little eyes; that silk scarf and popped collar combo. This is truly the Elvis on his way to an overdose.
And I have to ask--what on earth is circling his head? Its like he's in an orbit of blue-raspberry soda pop bubbles and black heroin smoke......both of which would be rather appropriate, now that I think of it.
I would put this on a wall in an office....or maybe in my dressing room. Why? Because it's motivational for everyone. The pretty, perfect people of the world can look at that and reinforce to their fabulous minds not to go down the same path as poor, poor, no-longer-a-heartthrob Elvis. Meanwhile, the socially-awkward, less-than-handsome fellows can gaze up at Elvis's swollen visage and say to themselves, "you know, if that guy can get the ladies and die famous, so can I."
It's a win-win situation for all involved, frankly. And for a one-time fee of $300, I totally want to be a part of that love.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
This may possibly be the best Elvis poster of all time.
Here we have him, The King, praying to a Guadeloupe-cum-Venus, nestled into a seaside grotto. Better still, said grotto has become a vanity mirror, possibly implying that Elvis A) sees himself as a Catholic Intercessor between Man and God and B) prays to his own graven image.
What's more, we have him in profile, in all his sun-baked, slicked-back-hair glory, mostly naked. Yes, he still has on his shoes, yes he's got on those strange spandex shorts....but we have imaginations....and those shorts leave very little to said imaginations.
Note the ethereal purple haze drifting over the mountains below, the sun setting, the warding-off-the-devil horns Elvis flashes us with his inside hand. Tonight is a magical night, apparently.
If Elvis is still alive, this is exactly where he is. He's not at a Kansas gas station or at the Louvre; he's half-naked on a hill, praying, like a good Catholic boy.
And for those who can't live without him: he's $600 at www.postersplease.com
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Browsing through the auction catalogue this morning, I noticed that boy do we have a nice little collection of Nixon-related stuff. I know, I know--possibly not your favorite president (just don't tell my dad that); however, whether you're pro, con, or indifferent, we may have the poster for you.
Nixon #1, El Presidente Triumphant: waving his hand in the air, smiling that big ol' Quaker smile, Nixon is totally The Man in this poster. I'm assuming this was an original campaign advert meant to squash out his political challengers and not a re-election poster. I mean, if this were the latter, it'd be like saying "well, we might not have kept our promises the first time...but THIS TIME, oh yeah, totally." So, yes, this is probably a first-time-around election poster. And don't he look charmin?
Nixon #2, Nixon Tattoo on Asian Booty: I really don't know where to begin with this one. You've got what I'm assuming is a shapely little Asian girl with a bad tan-line, wearing a US-style football jersey and little else, about to go all Girls Gone Wild toward a poster of Mao, while having already tattooed Tricky Dick on her ass. This is a whole new side of opening relations with China that I can't quite wrap my head around. Is she telling Nixon to kiss her proverbial butt while she macks on Mao? Is it a critical inquiry into the fickleness of American youth--one day staunch Republican, the next a Commie Pinko? Some things I may never know....
Nixon #3, The Watergate Game: frankly, the only Nixon poster I have any strong feelings about--and those feelings are super-positive, fyi. Who doesn't want to play the Watergate Boardgame?! You get to burn the tapes, be Deep Throat, meet in secrecy, and walk Checkers all over the course of one glorious hour of dice-rolling fun! And when you're done, you just pin it back up on your wall, displaying to all your amigos just how politically savvy and hip you are.
The best part? All of these have starting bids of $50--I don't think I can buy a nice version of Monopoly for that little anymore!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I can't quite figure out if the designers of this ad were going for a less-is-more approach or for something insanely melodramatic.
If you can't make it out, the woman sporting the 1960s threads is cradling a can of Del Monte Tomato Paste to her bosom, label aptly positioned against her chest so that we all can see that it is, indeed, Del Monte which she is pressing to her heart.
On the one hand, you've got a designer who has decided not to actually focus on the product. I mean, why do we, the audience, even need to know it's Del Monte, or any other tomato-based product for that matter? Instead, let us focus on the raven-haired lovely and the lush jungle setting, all of which put us in the mood for something delicious....oh, what's that in her hand? Oh yes, Del Monte....time to make some pasta sauce.
Alternatively, perhaps Mr. Design Man thought he was bringing a bit of soap-opera drama to an otherwise-lackluster product. A young beauty, lost in the wilderness, gazes off into the distance. Is that hope in her eye? Why yes it is! And what brings her such fortitude? Her Del Monte tomato paste, that's what! It is her lucky amulet, a talisman of strength that guides her through her perilous journey which a lesser woman would faint at the mere thought of!
Either way, I feel my kitchen walls getting braver and more sumptuous by the minute once this saucy lady (yes, I know...awful, awful pun) gets framed. May she guide my tomato sauce to the Elision Fields of deliciousness, the ambrosian plains of epicurean glory.....
Monday, February 23, 2009
In honor of Fashion Week, I thought I'd present this poster.
How do you make Fall Fashion Week more glamorous and star-studded than it already is? Let Bogie's wife, the infamous Lauren Bacall, host it in a pink jumpsuit, that's how!
Slinky and sassy, Ms Bacall juts out her hip in this poster made for the 1968 CBS Fall Fashion Week preview show. And just to make it a little bit more glamorous, they've decided to give her a boy-band backup group of sorts, all donning slightly different black tuxedos. Of course, for those in the know, this isn't any ordinary kick-line of fellows--it's none other than Emanuel Ungaro (of Balenciaga fame), Marc Bohan (from the house of Dior), Pierre Cardin, and the immortal Yves St. Laruent (behind the shades, of course). Now that's one hell of a fashion roster!
If only these flawlessly styled greats could gaze down at me from my wall as I create my own fashionable masterpieces every morning. Oh wait, for $50, they can!
Friday, February 20, 2009
Snuggling up with Dad on a Sunday evening to watch whatever was on Masterpiece Theatre was one of the staples of my childhood....well, that and the Tuesday night Mystery!.....and when was Miss Marple on? Perhaps this just proves that PBS used to be so much better, when quality programming was a serious goal rather than their current offerings of Century of Quilts and Antiques Roadshow...I know some of y'all love that stuff out there, but to me it's like QVC meets Reality Television.
Anyway, in honor of my nostalgia for Sundays filled with fabulous interpretations of classic literature, I present to you this poster, one of sixteen bygone beauties from the 1980s/1990s in our March auction.
Frankly, I can't imagine a more beautiful and simple image for summing up one of the greatest Jane Austen novels: the hard and the soft, the graceful and the firm, the negative space and the photographic reality....yes, I'm waxing poetic, but isn't it worth it?
Also, where else can you find something that's still sponsored by the now-Exxon-owned Mobil?
At $100, I feel like my study-cum-English-teacher-office would be a hot-cocoa away from Daddy's armchair.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
This poster always has me a little confused. Here we have a worm and a bird, gazing oh-so-matter-of-factly at each other, accompanied by the tagline "Incredible friendships begin at Brandy's."
Yes, I see, you want us to infer that at this bar even the most natural of nemeses make nice. I, however, see something a bit different. Here are my scenarios:
1. At this bar, you will meet someone who all your friends say is bad for you. You fail to heed their warnings, go home with the person, only to be eaten the next morning before breakfast--thereon invoking the expression "the happy-hour bird gets the worm."
2. You will meet people at Brandy's that make you feel so uncomfortable that you fear bodily-harm.
3. You'd rather devour these people than mate with them....perhaps it's the perfect place for a one-night-stand.
4. Interspecies dating is the specialty of the house.
Frankly, all these things sound concerning to me.....concerning enough that I'd love people to gaze up at my wall and wonder what kind of twisted sense of humor I have to have hung this poster in my home. And for a grand total of $50, it's pretty much worth it, isn't it?
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The mystique of the Parisian showgirl has held a dear spot in my heart since the New Year's Eve I spent in Paris, age 10. All feathers, glitter, and legs, those spot-lit darlings can-caned their way into my imagination.
Such fantasies have been upheld throughout my youth by such cinematic wonders as Moulin Rouge, There's No Business Like Showbusiness, Gypsy, and--dare I say it--Showgirls. Really, put a feathered headdress and a bustier on anyone, and I'll watch for hours.
Now, if you said to me "you know, I can make your loft feel like a dressing room at the Folies Bergere," I'd sign you a blank check and call Bravo to send over a film crew. Sadly, no one has propositioned me yet (at least not about this), so I can only dream...
...that is, until now. On March 12, our auction has not one, not two, but eight Showgirl posters up for grabs. Not only that, but many of them are of a reasonable enough size that even the smallest of studio apartments can enjoy them (we're talking no more than 14 x 22 inches)!
So, ladies, embrace your glamorous side and pepper these beauties about your boudoir.
Fellows, show your manfriends that you can be surrounded by more high-class broads than Hough Hefner.
Whatever your reasons, for as low as $50 you can add the glamor of Parisian nightlife to your home without having to pay the airfare--and in this economy, that's a fabulous deal.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Now that our printed catalogue has finally come out, I can gaze upon the wonders that will be in the next auction with ease. Yay for me.
Today's treasure is this poster for Newsweek. It might not look like much on the screen, but this baby is damn-near arresting in person. Having seen the photo for it a dozen times before this auction, I was surprised at how impressed by it I was when we finally unrolled it. It's huge. As in mini-billboard huge. And the colors are just oh so sharp.
Moving on from its aesthetic merits, though, there are a few solid reasons I want this above my couch:
1) Because the idea of Napoleon's massive head staring out at me every morning strokes my ego like nothing else. To be face to face with the man that conquered most of Europe, to have him gaze back at me with his strong, beady little eyes--measuring me up, finding me a worthy companion--these are the moments I live for.
Ok, yes, that may be dipping into my historical fantasies, but still--the idea is kinda nifty.
2) Tangential to the idea of making eyes at Napoleon the Conqueror, with this on my wall, I now get to say that I OWN the man, the myth, the legend. "Oh, you like Napoleon, eh? I've got him framed back home above my couch." "Not only was Russia his downfall, he now has to live in my apartment!" Hardy-har-har. Not that that really comes up in conversation all that often (how many Napoleon fans are there out there? How many of them really like to admit to it outside of war reenactment conventions?), but if it did, I'd be so prepared to impress them.
3) He has gangrene of the eyes. Let House analyze that one.
4) It's got a pun (Oversized Napoleon + 'bring em up short' = visual pun glory). Who doesn't want a pun on their wall? I, in fact, try to fill my house with as many visual puns as possible...I once had a bathroom covered in pictures of Europe (European/Ur-o-peein')...childish, yes...but also, I feel, brilliant.
So, support your love for visual puns, historical figures, and current events and bid on this baby. $400 starting bid and it could be yours!
Friday, February 13, 2009
There are some posters that just make me happy, giddy even. This is one of them. Not a single other poster in our upcoming Modern Sale tickles me as much as this little guy.
Well, first, he is kind of adorable--who doesn't like a clown freestyling on a bike? Ok, maybe that wasn't the best question since plenty of people hate clowns, in which case you can simply infer that his no-hands/no-feet move means he's speeding toward certain peril. Either way--fun clown, dead clown--we're all happy.
More importantly, it's the tag-line that gets me: "I like Polish bike!" Yes, Borat, you sure do. Since the dawn of humor the foreigner speaking oddly-strung English has made us smile, even if only on the inside. If it didn't, all those websites dedicated to Chinese translations of English wouldn't get a million hits a day. In fact, try saying "I like Polish bike" without using a funny accent--impossible! Instant joy! It's like Prozac for your walls.
Best part? This is a tourist ad. Because deep down, my Polish relatives all know that making people giggle is the best way to make them want to visit you again.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
My big auction is in exactly one month's time. Therefore, I find it only fitting that I copy and paste my punchy new press release to coincide with this auspicious date. I've also included a few key photos so you get an idea of just what kind of awesomeness I'm dealing with here:
For Immediate Release:
The first auction of its kind, Posters Please will be offering a collection of over 400 original, rare posters from the 20th century.
NEW YORK-- On Thursday, March 12th, Posters Please--the world's leading dealer of authentic vintage posters--will be offering over 400 lots of rare, original posters from the 20th century. This will be the first sale of its kind ever, opening up a previously untapped market to the auction community.
Aimed at first-time buyers, with many reserves as low as $100, this sale offers the unique opportunity to begin collecting works of art that will only increase in value.
With sections dedicated to politics, music, fashion, entertainment, travel, and sports, this sale follow the trajectory of pop culture from the 1950s through the 1980s. Bring back what once hung on the walls of your (or your parents') dorm room. From Levy's to Levis, Fu Manchu to Nixon, Nina Simone to Paul Simon, the Stenberg Brothers to the Marx Brothers, Mao to Tao, no sale has ever been filled with this many iconic images or notable personalities.
Highlights include a complete set of the famous San Francisco Rock posters, the first printing of Ricky Jay's 'Cards as Weapons' poster and book, the ghoulish advertisements of Edward Gorey, Gunther Kieser's concert images, a half-naked Elvis, the Beatles, Andy Warhol, Herman Miller, the cult images of Yokoo, and both the political and erotic posters of Tomi Ungerer, of Schoolhouse Rock fame.
Notable artists featured in the sale are Celestino Piatti, Seymour Chwast, Ivan Chermayeff, Paul Davis, Raymond Savignac, David Byrd, René Magritte, Alexander Calder, Erte, Joe Eula, Jean-Michel Folon, Milton Glaser, Richard Lindner, Michael Prechtl, Charles Kiffer, Rick Griffen, Wes Wilson, Bernard Villemot, Herbert Leupin, Pierre Fix-Masseau, Weimer Pursell, Tomoko Miho, Peter Teubner, Henri Matisse, William Klein, Al Hirschfeild, Keith Haring, and Pablo Picasso.
Accompanying this schmorgasboard of artistic talent are such (in)famous subjects as Allen Ginsberg, Watergate, Houdini, Alvin Ailey, Marcel Marceau, Woody Allen, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, the Folies Bergere, Edith Piaf, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, the Supremes, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, The Who, The Grateful Dead, The Lovin' Spoonful, Simon & Garfunkel, Lauren Bacall, Cuba, the New Yorker, the Giants, and Babe Ruth, Laurel & Hardy, Josephine Baker, Bobby Short, Maurice Chevalier, Mahalia Jackson, and Dizzy Gillespie.
It's time to go All the Way with LBJ, to vote Fu Manchu for Mayor, to express your awe for the poetry of Yevtushenko, to demand Safe Energy Now, to embrace Big Nudes, to have a Flask of W.C. Fields, to say Hooray for Captain Spaulding, to use Cards as Weapons, to tune into Masterpiece Theatre, to dance at the Mod Ball, to listen to Jazz, to see War in Concert, to climb aboard the Yellow Submarine, to Step Out in Levi's Jeans, to wear Chanel No. 5, to feast at the Herman Miller picnic, to read the New Yorker, to take all 65 Bridges to New York, to witness The Fight, to Join the Free and Fat Society, and to take part in the Electric Circus.
All that and more on March 12, 5:30 pm, at the International Poster Center.
Particulars: The auction begins at 5:30 pm on Thursday, March 12th.
The posters will be on view from February 27 to March 11, M-F, 9-5; Sat/Sun, 11-6.
The International Poster Center
601 W. 26th St., 13th Floor
New York, NY 10028
Free catalogue upon request; also on view at www.postersplease.com
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Another pretty fabulous work up for grabs in our March 12 auction is Milton Glaser's 'Big Nudes.'
Apparently, those nudes being shown at the SVA's gallery are SO BIG they can't fit onto the poster. Those must be some really big nudes.
Putting aside the humor, though, I love the entire concept of this poster--it's so simple, yet so effective. The fact that he's focused on the legs rather than the torso removes any overt sexual connotations, maintaining a provocativeness that's more fun than carnal. Like a Matisse, this body is playful and naked rather than pornographic.
I also love how by simply distorting the figure over a straight line, the viewer gets the sense that the body is flowing outside of the realm of the painting and onto the frame. It not only continues off the page, but is both canvas and structure.
Now, if we put aside the academic analysis for a moment, let's also take the time to contemplate the awesomeness of this poster. Who does not want a giant nude hanging over their towel rack? I know I do. That way each time I get out of the shower, I feel like I'm not the only big nude in the room. It's both comforting and decorative--and you won't find that happy combination anywhere outside of a family photo album these days. So go, get your bid on.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
On March 12, we're hosting our first-ever Modern Poster sale. I think it's the coolest thing ever, but, then again, it was my idea, and I'm a massive egomaniac.
This is one of my favorite little gems within the sale. I don't really care that it's an advertising poster for the Tomato Music Company (home to such greats as John Cage, Leadbelly, and Santana), but more that it's a poster of a giant tomato in an armchair.
First, this tomato has some serious interior design skills--check out that insane wallpaper. Are those purple urns, magenta swags, and olive-green vines? Oh, I think they are. And he's got a crazy grandma rug to match! I sense some vegetable has been watching Bravo's Top Design. The only major flaw in his space-creation would be that the chair is facing a wall....but Mr. Tomato lacks eyes, so this is entirely forgivable.
Second, let's talk about the tag-line: "Tomato: Something Unusual is Going on Here." Well, yes, something is. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes has gone into retirement, invested in an arm chair, and now lives in a flashily-decorated home....that (and this is just what I surmise by looking out the window), and said home is floating in some sort of Space-Odyssey ether. And why is the curtain hanging outside the house? Now THAT'S really unusual. Oh, and judging by the lit cigarette, I sense that Mr. Tomato is a smoker....I'm sure there's a pun in there about smoked vegetables, but I'm not going to touch it.
Overall, I give this an A+ for conversation-starting capabilities. And, frankly, with a starting bid of $300, that's a reasonable price to pay for awesomeness.
Monday, February 9, 2009
In honor of our new poster exhibition 'Gems of the Belle Èpoque,' I've decided to dedicate this entry to two of our big pieces--La Dame Aux Camille and Lorenzaccio, both by Mucha.
Now, I normally think of Mucha as a candy-box artist--the kind of guy whose stuff has now wound up on mouse pads and Barnes & Noble calendars worldwide. We've seen his Four Seasons (or Four Flowers...or Times of Day...or, well, the list goes on...) so many times in the living rooms of our boyfriends' grandmothers' that they're synonymous with doilies and stale store-brand baked goods.
This entry of his art into the world of middle-class kitsch has almost made us forget that back in the late 1800s/early 1900s, his work was revolutionary. He was Mr. Art Nouveau, the golden child of Czechoslovakia (and, frankly, Europe).
He was so famous, so popular, that he became the chief poster designer for almost all of Sarah Bernhardt's publicity images. Here we see her, larger than life (no, seriously, these things are nearly 7 feet tall) in two of her great roles.
The first, La Dame aux Camelias, is arguably Bernhardt's most famous role. It revolves around the tried-and-true plot of a fallen woman rejecting her lover before watching him be outcast by society for associating with her (Verdi's 'La Traviata' was obviously based on this Dumas novel, too). This poster, however, I think is a bit more epic than the famous storyline. Look at those gorgeous metallic stars, the rich folds of her dress, the weight of the ermine stole, the resolved sadness in her face as she leans against the balcony behind her. Really, how much more elegant do you want it to get? And don't forget the fabulous details--the hand in the lower left holding the white camellias with such precious, pulling their roots out of the lower text; and above, in either corner, the hearts of the two doomed lovers pierced with thorns.
Showing off just as much detail is Mucha's poster for Lorenzaccio, a play by Musset revolving around the life of the famous Lorenzo de Medici. A complex psychological play, Lorenzo plans to transform society for the better by murdering the corrupt Duke of Florence. However, in order to get close enough to the Duke to assassinate him, he must embrace a similar lifestyle, ultimately resulting in his own corruption. So, basically, a play with all the juicy parts of Hamlet and the big works of Dostoevsky--good times. Now, I'm not sure when a dragon comes into the plot, or what the little Medusa-esque woman sheathing the dagger with her torso in the lowermost panel is supposed to represent, but I think it's a sensational work, complete with over four types of paisley!
So, those of you out there who thinks Mucha is a bit passé, think again! This man rocks the proverbial socks of the large-scale poster, and kicks some serious Art Nouveau ass.
Friday, February 6, 2009
When I mention to my mother that I might be spending Friday night in Harlem, I hear a rather worried gasp crackle through the cell phone before the usual assault of questions and pleas hit my ear. I have to remind her that I'm probably not going to become a heroin mule or fall head over heals for a pimp--I mean, why would I spend that much time on the subway for thrills I could just as easily find in the East Village?
The Harlem I'm after is the Harlem portrayed here--all flickering neon and velvet black night. I love how the white vertical lines punch out the image into a giant H, how the whole street gets sucked into this vast darkness that feels anything but empty. If ever an image truly captured that area, it's this one.
And where does it come from, you ask? Back in the late 1960s, this poster was part of a ten-image series commissioned by the Container Corporation of America as a salute to New York City. Used as public decoration, these posters covered the walls of churches and subways cars alike. If only Big Business still found this sort of public art appealing, I wouldn't have to look at so many advertisements for 1-800-DIVORCE or the 'Best Pediatrist in NYC' on my way to work every day.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
No matter how much you protest when your friends invite you, everyone secretly loves a theme party. I've been to everything from a Create Your Own Superhero Bacchanalia to an 18th Century Casino Night, and I'm still bewailing the fact that I was out of town during the infamous Mustache Ball.
The party advertised in this poster, however, takes the proverbial cake. Straight out of Zoolander, it's the "Derelicte" ball....except rather than be a facade for the fashion industry's secret ploy to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia, it's an all-out serious social event. No Mugatu, no hand models, just a pure, homeless-inspired fashion fest for your late-night enjoyment.
I mean, look at the fellow on the poster. Adorned in the best hobo style an Art Deco artist could muster, he is rockin' out. Don't you want to put on your knee-patched ochre tights and Constructionist tunic, too?
And what sort of entertainment would be provided, you may ask? Well, according to this poster, you get to look forward to a Ukrainian choir, some hygiene intervention lectures, a ballet, an around-the-world look at poverty, the next season of women's fashion, and jazz (4 types of jazz, at that). If they topped all that off with copious amounts of alcohol, I would imagine it was a pretty wild time.
Monday, February 2, 2009
As long as we're on the theme of posters that will confuse your house guests, let me point out this bit of fabulousness, perfect for that vast tundra of bare wall over your couch.
At first glance, this is a perfectly charming, normal, turn-of-the-century poster. The rosy faces and plump dollops of snow fit in with that whole Cheret "Palais de Glace" genre (again, worth a google if you're not familiar--Cheret's work is some of the most iconic of the last century).
But then, you notice something a bit odd: where are the old man's feet?
Now, if you have a solid knowledge of French, there's a rather ridiculous little limerick off to the side about shoes and amputated limbs (why someone thought that was an appropriate advertising avenue to go down, I don't know); however, let's just think about the image itself and what your non-francophone friends will surmise...
1. The elderly gentleman was so entranced by the shoes that he stood outside the window for many hours, during rain, sleet, and hail, until finally about 5 inches of precipitation built up around his feet, freezing them to the ground.
2. During a freak kitchen accident, he lost both of his lower extremities. The doctor on call had to make a split-second decision, resulting in his using industrial-sized forks for prosthetics. He now has the added bonus of excellent traction, and makes a fine living cleaning up trash in local parks.
3. This man really is a war veteran, and the advertising industry would rather portray amputees as jovial bon-vivants than their George Grosz/Otto Dix counterparts.
I'm not even going to touch on what the flesh-toned tail protruding from the rear of his coat is supposed to represent.....other than possibly the tail his faithful dog seems to be missing.