During my holiday in Lisbon I saw some beautiful wall paintings on a stretch of buildings. It takes some time to take in the painted figures. The painters tried to make them 3D by having them interact with the windows (for example pushing arms through them). Also remarkable is the beautiful Beaux-arts building next to them.
It is my third time visiting the city and it is just a very agreeable : ). Also the air in this capital–the most westward of the European mainland–is remarkable clean, partly due to its location on the Atlantic. Thankfully the bright sun is filtered through the magnificent Jacaranda trees in the city. Unfortunately they did not bloom when I visited.
Used as we are to graphic design histories featuring hero’s like Paul Rand, Wim Crouwel and that German named guy who is into self mutilation, we tempt to forget that there are also other histories possible. Critics originating in the field of visual culture studies have pointed this out frequently. Still they fail to construct an alternative. Which makes sense if deconstruction is your specialty. Continue reading
The centerpiece of Scorceses movie ‘Hugo’ is the station resembling the Gare du Nord. It has a remarkable amount of advertising posters on display. Many of them are by the famous French poster artist Cassandre (1901-1968).
I counted at least eleven of Cassandre. This must have made his heirs –who vigorously retain his copyrights–happy campers. In reality it is doubtful a similar display would have been found outside poster-exbitions in those days. If only for the dates of the posters that all fall in the 1927-1932 range.
When the camera first enters the station hall one sees on the left a variation on Cassandre’s Grande Quinzaine Internationale de Lawn-Tennis (1932), and above the stairs in the back the famous Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet (1932) series advertising liquor. Most prominently on the left side Triplex (1930) with the driver behind safety glass.
A few scenes later also also Sools (1929) for hats and Unic (1932) for men shoes can be discerned in the hall. Specially highlighted at a certain moment is one of Cassandres other more famous posters, Nord Express (1927), celebrating a cubist machine aesthetic.
The hallway connecting the platform hall uses two posters that in their muted coloring look a lot like murals. On the left side is a depiction of a large study Cassandre made, probably for Galeries Lafayettes, that was never published. It is beautifully shown when Hugo is creeping out of the wall during the movie.
If he would have looked forward he would have seen the flower stand. Above it the advertisement for the magazine VU, a French predecessor of Life magazine, highlighted when inspector Gustave looks at the flowergirl.
Taking in mind the them of the poster, love at first sight!
Another fine ensemble of Cassandre”s posters is shown when Hugo escapes from inspector Gustave by running through the whole length of one the platforms and flying up a ladder. On the platform five Cassandre posters: Grande Quinzaine Internationale de Lawn-Tennis (1932), SAGA (1927), Chemin de Fer du Nord (1929), L’ Oiseau Blue (1929) and Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet (1932).
The newspaper stand owner has at his side Cora Madou (1929)–a famous singer in those days–from Paul Colin. In the hall is the Twining poster advertising tea from Charles Loupot. When Hugo creeps out of the wall to tiptoe to Méliès’ toy-stand we see in the hallway around the corner, a carefully framed Au Bon Marché (1929) from Jean Carlu. Rather symbolically it features a happy servant with toys and at his feet a little girl. These three poster artists–Colin, Loupot and Carlu–were, together with Cassandre known as the ‘four musketeers’, a testament to their importance in the nineteen twenties and thirties.
As for the other posters. The most remarkable ones are the those on the wall of the cinema Hugo visits. Beautiful film posters that immidiately convey a more american flavor (any movieposter specialists here?). In the remainder of the movie there are at least 10 other posters which I haven’t been able to identify. All in all a remarkable collection. Where is the missing movie companion for this collection?
Grande Quinzaine Internationale de Lawn-Tennis 1932
Nord Express 1927
Poster design Galeries Lafayette 1928
Grande Quinzaine Internationale de Lawn-Tennis 1932
Chemin de Fer du Nord 1929
L’ Oiseau Blue 1929
Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet 1932
Twining (Charles Loupot) 1930
Au bon Marche, Carlu
Cora Madou, Paul Colin, 1929
Exposition Coloniale Internationale 1931
A study in contrasts? Searching for Neurath’s Modern Man in the Making on Google also brings up Pendergast’s Creating the Modern Man : American Magazines and Consumer Culture : 1900-1950.
Neuraths title neutrally suggest the development of mankind as shared project. It is clear that in his view modernity-accept for the heavy toll of war–is a positive development, made possible by the progress of science. People are abstract, quantifiable and can be expressed in visual statistics.
Pendergast writes about the creation of idea’s about masculinity between 1900 and 1950. Interestingly the title Creating (…) suggest a creator. It is tempting to think that Pendergast refers to ‘creation’ of ideas by corporate consumer capitalism. Instead he suggests a process that is positive in nature, in which everybody participates.
Two ideas of looking at, and studying men, one contemporary, one in retrospect. Both resulting in a similar book title and a very different cover. I am thinking about this. I can’t remember Neurath dealing with cultural issues in his statistics?
- Thomas D. Pendergast, Creating the Modern Man: American Magazines and Consumer Culture: 1900-1950, University of Missouri Press, Columbia 2000.
- Otto Neurath, Modern Man in the Making, Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1939.
April 9th I will give a lecture about pictogram history at AKV|St. Joost / Avans University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch. It is a part of an afternoon organised by the Research Group Visual Rhetoric of which I am a member, and is dedicated to visual information design. Also dataviz agency CleverFranke and the infographics agency Schwandt Infographics will be giving lectures. Continue reading
I met this leaf of stamps at my local store. It was love it first sight. Not much of a design, but bright colours and flowers are a weakness of mine. Extra communicative flourishes email can’t buy. Then I read the text: ‘Live the seasons with Seasons: for twenty years the outdoor life style magazine of the Netherlands’. Did I fall in love with an advertisement? Continue reading
Great packaging illustration from the dutch cartoonist Peter van Straten for nylon packaging. In his melancholic cartoons for newspapers and magazines Van Straten observes the small-often bedroom–hick ups in relations between man and woman. Very appropriate. Also a washing powder packaging that is a designers wet dream! Both found in the archive of Albert Heijn.