Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Air India

I sort of had to do a double-take when we got this poster in a few week's back. 

But no, I saw it right the first time....that's a turbaned monk. Oh wait, I get it....Air India to Rome....cultures melding in harmonious glory, gotcha. 

And still, I somehow think that the Vatican wouldn't approve. Then again, I don't think the Vatican flies via Air India, so they might just never find out. It's probably for the best. 

Putting all the politically-correct-or-not debates aside, this poster really stands out for me amongst the plethora of Airline posters we have in this upcoming auction. 

For one, it's funny--Air France rarely, if ever, put humor in their posters, relying more on sleek design and glorified depictions of far-off lands. This is a bit more down-to-earth, as if it's saying, "you, too, touristy person, can fly to Rome and experience weird quirky things--they love tourists there, and will therefore treat you amazing well!" Now, I can't really remember the last time Italian monks let me near a harp in a monastery, but I'm sure it happens if you fly Air India. 

Moving on, another reason this poster gets bonus points for awesomeness: it looks like they let Keith Haring and the guy who designed The Jetsons create this poster. Look at those little action lines indicating the monks' tonsures--don't tell me that isn't Keith's signature move (See: http://tinyurl.com/62afvm). And I don't think I need to tell you that the Indian guy looks like he just got plucked off the Cartoon Network. Combine the two and you've got 1980s-lovin' appeal all over it!

If you're still not convinced of this poster's superiority, why not ponder the financial question: would you rather spend over $1000 on an Air France poster, or buy this with an estimate of $800 to $1000. It's possibly the biggest aviation win in the entire sale. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

Poke the Nude!

Sometimes advertising art and the actual item being sold fail to find a harmonious balance. This is one of those moments. 

No, this is not a poster for the latest burlesque show, nor, more specifically, an artistic rendering of one of the later scenes in the musical Gypsy (as I was so certain it was). It's a poster for the 1918 Exhibition of Danish Art and Commerce! Now, unless you read German, don't tell me you could gather that little factoid from the visual context clues. 

So yes, there's a bit of a disconnect here between art and event. That said, I'm not about to claim that this poster lacks awesomeness; for, frankly, it's ten times more exciting that the event its promoting. Danish Art and Commerce? Pooey! I want to go to the show where a bunch of dismembered hands poke the naked chick! 

If those are your sentiments, too, you can pick up this beauty for under $2,000 in our May auction. It's basically an inappropriate conversation piece waiting to happen. 

Friday, March 27, 2009

Taisez Vous!

I honestly had to look twice to figure out what this poster was about....and now that I'm 'in the know,' it's gone from the boring category in my mind to the totally awesome one. 

No, it's not some kind of Soviet Stenberg-Brothers creation (though with that color scheme, it should be), nor is it advertising for a Chinese magic show (yes, that Mandarin collar and something about the eyes led me down that road, too). It's an post-occupied France propaganda poster! And boy do I love me some propaganda....

For our non-francophone friends out there, this poster says (loosely) "Be quiet! The Germans may have left, but their spies remain!" 

Before I continue, can I add how fabulously hilarious it is that Mallet (the artist) thought that by giving this guy a monocle, he was instantly more German. Because, you know, that's what those Deutsch-folk wear....monocles or eye patches. Like Tom Cruise in Valkyrie. 

Moving on, I somehow see this as the social equivalent of those old US/Brit public health posters (She may LOOK clean, but that good time girl will give you VD! See: http://tinyurl.com/ckoptx). Different point, same purpose: don't talk to strangers, kids.....because they could be spies or give you a genital disease.  

Now, with this baby having the super-low estimate of $1200-1500 in our May auction, who doesn't want to spread the word and hang it in their office? It's for a good cause, you know. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Since I reminisced about Merry Olde yesterday, I figured why not stay on that kick? And what brings me back to the other side of the pond more than memories of Vespa rides with Max? Oh, that'd be tea. 

A wise Brit once said to me that tea is a magical substance. Hard day? Have some tea. Got a cold? Try the tea. Social gathering? A round of tea. Grandma up and dies? Tea will help. Financial crisis? Totally a tea moment. You get the idea. 

Well, somehow I think that although the fellow in this poster understands the wondrous properties of England's signature beverage, his redheaded companion fails to grasp the concept. He's actually shouting that he only will drink a certain brand (Pekarek's) of tea, and that obviously she should have known not to serve him such a paltry substitute; however, I like to just think that he's a massive tea fan and she's totally not getting it.

And for all those tea fans out there, this poster is still sitting around our gallery. Why not let all your houseguests know exactly where you stand on India's greatest export? 


Wednesday, March 25, 2009


You know how some smells can take you back to certain moments in your life? I have that going on when I look at this poster. 

This time last year, I was living it up in not-so-sunny England with the sweetest fellow in existence: Max. Max loved his Vespa more than anything in the world--he wore a hoodie with a Vespa on it, he took pictures of random Vespas he'd see on the side of the road, my mom even got him a Christmas ornament of a Vespa. Obsession doesn't even begin to describe it. 

Anyway, the majority of our bonding-experience took place while on the back of his Vespa. We'd go everywhere--Hyde Park, Spitalfields, Brompton Road, The Strand, Tottenham Court Road...just everywhere, really. I'd wrap my arms around his middle, sing silly songs into his ear, and watch the world rush by. In a word, happiness. 

In fact, I don't think I've been as happy since those days of Vespa-filled travel--but, in looking at this poster, all that comes right back. The speed, the fun, the sunshine (well, perhaps not the sunshine...England's got sort of a constant October going on over there): this poster is just pure joy, absolute freedom. 

And so, I hope someone buys this poster in our May auction. I mean, how often does instant happiness on a page come up for sale? 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Mills

After noticing that the batch of fabulously 70s towels I purloined from my grandmother's house last weekend are made by Springs Mills, I feel inspired to write about one of the two posters in our next auction which advertises said fabric mega-corporation. 

I don't think I can really say too much about how charming this poster is. Slender, rosy-cheeked vision of loveliness jumping rope, all blonde curls and milky white skin. Yep, you guessed it--a PG-13 pinup queen straight out of the mid-1950s. Sex may sell, but sex disguised as innocents sells better. 

And what exactly is this poster selling, besides the pretty lady? Well, judging by the text, I have a feeling that her undergarments are in question (which, obviously, justifies the need to show off her knickers). No worries, though: if they're by Springmaid, then they are not only 'crease-proof,' but also 'anti-rebound.' Why do I have the sudden feeling that not even my far more modern underthings can compete with that? 

Put this little lady up in your powder room to remind you of a more discrete time. With an estimate of only $1200-1500, I bet you can justify it, even in a tight economy. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Purple People Eater

With the Modern Sale out of the way, my thoughts get to turn to bigger and better things: our May auction. While I probably haven't seen everything in it yet (my unbound copy of the catalogue shows up from the printer tomorrow...oh joy, oh rapture!), I am almost certain that nothing else in the sale can compare to my new favorite poster. 

This is Thomas Heine's 'Tinte und Feder,' a curious and über-awesome poster from 1897. 

First off, the use of only three colors, one of them being a gorgeously rich purple, puts him way ahead of his time design-wise. You don't really see stuff this Modern coming out of Germany for another ten years. It is just so crisp and so striking, and yet so simple. You'll get a better idea of what I'm talking about when I do a later entry on our other Secession-era posters--the graphic design of this period was, generally speaking, much more focused on intricate, jewel-like patterns (think Klimt, Moser) or sinuous, pastel-infused sweetness (Mucha). You just don't see something like this that often. 

I also think that Heine might be taking advertising out of the obvious and into the intellectual with this poster. Unlike it's less-culturally-sensitive counterparts, this poster gets a round of applause for using something other than blacksploitation imagery to sell ink (see http://tinyurl.com/cc8nhz ). Instead, I think Heine is making a reference to the ever-popular Sturm und Drang in Germanic literature--why not use the icons of that which is written to advertise that with which one writes? Perhaps this little satyr is meant to represent Goethe's (or Mann's for that matter) Mephistopheles. Then again, perhaps I'm just a hyper-intellectual snob that likes to project such literary fantasies upon art that I love. 

Sadly, with an estimate of $30,000-$40,000, this bad boy isn't going to make it to my bedroom this year; but, I'll gladly give the title of "Most Awesome Person In The Universe" to the bloke who buys it. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Shielding Shadow

Sometimes a poster comes along that is just badass. 

This is that poster. 

Here you have one of presumably many different posters for a serialized black and white silent film. This episode? Oh, it's The Great Sacrifice (read: someone dies, though probably a minor character...like a mill worker or the heroine's father). More importantly, in this episode, Ravengar (+10 points for coolest name ever) 'escapes the Wreck.' Yes, the Wreck  is so impressive that it gets capitalized. 

Putting the text-based awesomeness aside, how else is this poster 'badass'? Well, here are my top 3 reasons:

1. He's got a head wound, and doesn't even flinch in pain! He's superhuman, I tell you!

2. Ravengar's got that super-intense, knowing look of revenge in his eyes....he is going to go Chuck Norris-style on someone in the near future. 

3. Amazing facial hair. The more mustachioed the better, I say; and he's about 3 inches of mustache away from Civil War General. 

Still not convinced it's worth the $1200? Well, think of it this way--you'd be the only one of your friends to own an original poster for a cinematic event even IMDB and wikipedia fail to document. Now that's badass. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In Denmark, Children are Awesome

These two chunks of goodness have been floating around the office for a while. Why no one has purchase them, I may never know; for, frankly, they're some of the best contemporary graphic design I've seen around here. 

Yes, I know what you're thinking--they do look an awful like Target ads; however, I promise, given that these were done pre-1970, they came first. And here you thought Target was so clever. Fools. 

Honestly, though, how are you not charmed by the pair of these? The use of sharp red and clean white, the no-frills background, the counterintuitive arrangement of props, the use of perfectly blonde children--you've got an advertiser's dream looking you square in the eye. 

Now, of course you want to know what they're selling. Given that they're both endorsed by Denmark, I'm assuming these are the equivalent of the "Come to Jamaica and Feel All Right" ads that come on after Jeopardy. Of course, these are more like "come to Denmark and see our perfectly-formed offspring tell wondrous tales about everyday items." 

Well, maybe it's not so nonsensical for the poster with the boys. The little fellow in red obvious just brought back a crate of giant fish from the local harbor, along with a few super-fresh fillets for tonight's supper. Meanwhile, his two buddies obviously decided to pop over to sub-par Norway to do their fishing. The moral of the story? You can give a fish to a Danish boy but you can't teach him to fish in his own waters....or something like that. 

The poster of the girls is a bit less cut-and-dry (oh, fish preparation pun!). If we go by the compare-what-Denmark-has-to-what-everyone-else-has theory, all this girl is saying is that in Denmark, there are 1970s televisions in the sky. I honestly have no idea. Feel free to leave your thoughts...or just buy them from us for $200 and see if your houseguests can't come up with better interpretations. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wall Street

A few days ago, a friend of mine showed up at a theme party dressed as Trickle-Down Economics. 

The theme was 'Myths & Legends.'

Given that the economy is, um, experiencing technical difficulties, I think she and her fellow irony-lovers should invest $200 and purchase this bit of graphic hilarity to decorate their otherwise-less-awesomely-decorated walls. 

What the Jesus night-light and the Buddha throw-pillow were to those Urban Outfitter hipsters three years ago, this poster could be to the tongue-in-cheek social commentators of today.  They could sit in their skinny jeans and cowboy boots, listening to some super-cool bit of vinyl they picked up at a thrift shop, and gaze upon the Gold Calf that was Wall Street. With towers made of NASDAQ-flavored text from an obviously better time, they could take stock in the fact that they are far more with it than the rest of you plebs. 

So go on, soak up that Dow-Jones goodness. You earned it. 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Post-Auction Debate

Well folks, the auction went off without....hrm...I can't quite say without a hitch now can I? Without a massive meltdown? Yes, definitely. With a few minor hiccups? Sure, but what doesn't have those these days. 

All follies put aside, it was quite a success. Now, in addition to selling off the unsold lots (I get you nice price on poster, ja?), the biggest point of discussion is...

....where do I hang this? 

This was one of my early favorites in the auction--a textless wonder by the brilliant Tomi Ungerer (of Conjunction Junction fame). 

I think she's fabulous--she sits in my mind somewhere between Morticia Adams and a Hans Bellmer. The touch of red on splayed legs and parted lips is just oh so Egon Schiele. In other words, we've got pop/art references up the proverbial wazoo in this baby. 

Of course, my friends don't all see it quite that way. There may have been a moment when a certain someone said that he didn't want to see "a dismembered woman farting" on my wall. These may just be the tragedies he and others may face, for one man's gaseous paraplegic is another woman's art, and I apparently am all about equal-opportunity in my apartment's decor.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One Day Left....

Ah, the final day before the Modern Sale....what great trepidation fills my soul. 

Truth is, while we've had some solid absentee bids flow in over the last 72 hours, we could sincerely use some more. How does this read as at all appealing to you, gentle audience? Well, frankly, it translates as 'you can totally get the majority of the stuff in this auction for the starting bid!' In many cases, that's $50 or $100 for an authentic, vintage, first-edition poster from the 1930s-80s of your choosing. 

So, go to www.postersplease.com. Browse the many lots in the Modern Posters auction, see what you like, and call 212-787-4000 to tell us you're willing to bid the reserve. You might just get an amazing deal. 

The biggest deals in this auction? Oh, let's see:

Lot 207, original Jimi Hendrix from the San Francisco Rock collection. Normally goes for $2,000+ at auction, we have it starting at $200.

Lot 210, the original Beatles Yellow Submarine poster. Heritage Auction House has it listed with a starting bid of $2,000 (4,000-6,000 estimate), and yet we're starting at $500.

Lot 2, a Nixon campaign poster from the first time he ran for president. Only $50 starting bid!

Lot 82, Cards As Weapons, the cult classic book & poster, both 1st editions, and both for $300 (goes upwards of $1000 on Ebay!)

Lot 92, A signed special edition gold poster for Alvin Ailey Dance Company, signed by the entire 1974 cast, $500 starting bid!

Lot 132, the original poster for the Marx Brothers Scrapbook, signed by Groucho! $500

Lots 190-195, many of the original posters for Guy Peelaert's cult classic Rock Dreams, all $300-$600.

Lots 276-278, the original You Don't Have To Be Jewish to Love Levy's rye bread ads. The artist died 2 weeks ago, so you'll never see these again. All $200!

And so, so much more!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Boz Scaggs

I may sound completely uninformed (or just severely dated), but I have no idea who Boz Scaggs is....and yet I want this poster. 

Why? Well, my reasons are very simple:

1. It is one of the original San Francisco Rock posters by Bill Graham. What does that mean? Well, all ye not in the proverbial know, that means you'd be owning a slice of one of the most historic moments (movements even?) in music history. The posters done for shows produced by Bill Graham redefined art for music--they basically made psychedelic art iconic. 

2. It's small. Well, smaller than your usual floor-to-ceiling advertising poster, which, in an apartment lacking much available wall space, is exactly what I need. A food an a half by under 2 feet? Sure, I can make room for that. 

3. This might be the most important reason: it is possibly the sexiest poster I've ever seen. You've got the title--'slow dancer'--which automatically brings to mind cheek-to-cheek nuzzling and moonlit whispers. It's a black and white photograph, which is always more romantic than color. And he's totally molesting her breasts without being all that trashy. And his leg? Oh, don't get me started. It's just hot. 

So, before we never see this puppy again, someone should call in an absentee bid for $200 and get it at the reserve. After all, it is our only copy and it might not come around again all that soon. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Losing Your Head....

I am by no means a sports fan; however, somehow, this poster manages to speak even to me. 

A year or so back, I happened to be in England during a Chelsea-Manchester United game. Chelsea lost on their home turf. As fans poured into the streets post-game, I witnessed from the back of my friend's Ford Fiesta exactly how insane soccer/football fans are. 

The most appropriate phrase that springs to mind is "HOLY HELL." 

European soccer fans are nutso--they ransacked the streets, teamed up to turn over cars, set trashcans ablaze, and climbed all over the slowly-moving vehicle I was attempting to inch through the masses. 

This silk-screen manages to sum up my feelings for those footie-fans, losing their heads over the love of the game. 

Bonus? This is actually a silk-screen, so it's much more fragile and technically more like a painting than your average vintage poster. And with a starting bid of $100, I could make the bedroom of a sports-loving little boy a whole lot brighter on the cheap (see lot 378 at www.postersplease.com)

Friday, March 6, 2009

You Don't Have to be Jewish

Because Howard Zieff died last week, I figure now is a good time to showcase one of his most famous advertising campaigns: Levy's Jewish Rye. 

If you ask people of a certain age (read: anyone over 40), this ad series was monumental in its time. He took normal-looking people which he found on the streets of New York--not the blonde-haired, perfectly freckled tots or slender, stylish models used for every other product in the 1960s--and made them give us some of the most honestly happy smiles in poster history. 

This, of course, wasn't the be all end all of Mr. Zieff's creative awesomeness: he went on to direct the 'spicy meat-a-ball' Alka Seltzer ad, and even the cinematic gem that is Private Benjamin (oh, wonder of my childhood!).

That said, you can't hang any of those Zieffs on your wall, whereas you can have any Levy's Rye poster for all of $200 this Thursday at auction.....decisions, decisions. 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Alice Boots

To follow up on yesterday's post, this is the first poster my boss hung in my office because she thought it "reminded her of me." 

Her actual phrase was, "this is how I think you see the world." 

Looking at this poster, I would presume that to mean that I see the world as filled with half-naked women and creepy critters dying to molest me.....which actually isn't far from the truth, but I won't get into that. 

The awesome thing about this poster is that it has taken a dozen or so famous images by Aubrey Beardsley (whom I collect) and merged them into a single über-Beardsley land wherein this Alice girl can roam. And I imagine then that it's no surprise that her name is Alice, for what other blonde-locked child would be wandering about such a surreal wonderland? 

Ok, now that we've discussed its literary and artistic merits, let's come back to the fact that it's advertising boots. This is so not a poster for Keds or Converse--this is an ad that makes me want to hunt down this bootery and get myself a fancy pair of laceups!

Too bad I already bought myself a copy, or I'd spend the $100 at next Thursday's auction

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


My boss occasionally pops into my office with a poster that is "oh so you!" This was the second poster she thrust into my arms with that phrase. 

This is where I have to look a combination of elated and impressed--the former, for her finding it; the latter, for her knowing it was 'oh so me.' Oddly enough, she's been spot on every time.....this worries me. 

Anyway, hopefully you are all asking yourselves why is this poster 'oh so me.' There are at least 5 obvious reasons:

1. The font is off-the-hook awesome. Who doesn't love vintage font-i-ness? I feel like I'm looking at a red-painted wood sign for Miss Milly's Piano Bar, complete with burlesque dancers; I can hear the tinkle of untuned standup, the crunch of peanut shells beneath my feet. 

2. Flappers make me happy. Gimme a über-long necklace, no tits, and a cigarette holder and I'm a tommy-gun away from pure pleasure. 

3. Sepia. Favorite tone for anything. Nuf said.

4. Mixing of geographical, cultural, and historical characters. I certainly want to be in a place where flamenco guitar players dip flapper girls--thats just crazy hot. 

5. This "most exciting discotheque" is all of 3 blocks from my current apartment. For me, having this poster in my house would be like the equivalent of having that bumper sticker that says 'think global, buy local'....because I'd be thinking awesomely by decorating locally. And frankly, that's all I can do for Harlow's since I believe it's no longer extant. And as one of the cheapest posters in our auction (all of $50 and it's yours people) I think I can wave a flag of remembrance in my living room for this long-dead legend. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


There are some advertising campaigns, like the one in the previous entry, which show the world through the rosiest of glasses in order to sell you a product. 

Then there are ones which show you the bitter truths of the human condition, thereby indicating the necessity of said product. This Alka-Seltzer advertising campaign definitely fits into the latter category. 

We see before us three fabulously decadent spreads.....the phrase 'food porn' comes to mind. Oh, how I would love to chomp into that bratwurst and suck down those buttery potatoes; to inhale the delights of that sumptuous paella; and to ingest ever morsel of that pile of Italian treats. 

Perhaps I do not know any better, because consuming one, let alone all three, of these feasts will assuredly lead to such a gastrointestinal nightmare that I might swear off eating altogether. Or perhaps, I know all too well that my trusty friend Alka-Seltzer will somehow magically cure all tummy-related ailments as fast as you can say "plop, plop, fizz, fizz." 

Either way, for $100, I can have all three daily tempting me from my kitchen walls, reminding me that for every indulgence, there is probably an inexpensive cure.  

Monday, March 2, 2009

Springtime in Switzerland

This is, hands down, the most adorable advertising campaign of all time. 

Really, what ingredients of cuteness has the artist failed to incorporate? 

1. Fluffy lamb, complete with neck-bell, and flower-in-mouth, dancing through the air. 

2. Bees and butterflies kissing the local flora.

3. Quaint little village nestled by a lake. 

4. Printed during the last year of World War II, so frankly this looks like paradise compared to the rest of Europe. 

OF COURSE I want to go to that village--it's probably even a spa with fabulously blonde masseuses who perform hot rock massages and shitsu. I'll go swimming in spring waters and somehow not have an allergic reaction to their impossibly clean pollen and stingless bees. Their lambs will not smell like barns, nor will they defecate in any noticeable way, but instead will be immaculately groomed, smelling akin to fresh laundry on a summer's day--what's more, they will trot up to me ever so gingerly, offering me freshly-plucked flower as they nestle their oh-so-adorable lamb faces onto my lap. The hills really will be alive with the Sound of Music (and it's Switzerland, so no Nazis!), and my own personal Heidi will deliver me hot cocoa in the evenings. 

Now, my choices: either I pay the $200 asked in the auction for this poster, or I spend a grand on airfare and a hotel in Switzerland. Why do I feel like the real thing can never live up to this ad?