When you think of advertisements in today’s world, you probably think of annoying pop-up ads that crop up on your computer screen when you’re trying to read the latest gossip from your favorite online periodical. However, there was a time not that long ago when visual and print advertising took on a surprisingly artistic tone.
It all started in Europe in the late 19th century when a French painter and lithographer named Jules Chéret, who after studying lithography in London, came up with a “three stone lithographic process,” a technological printing breakthrough which allowed artists to achieve every color in the rainbow, while producing a remarkable intensity of color and texture.
The ability to combine word and image in a format that was both appealing to the eyes and economical to produce made the lithographic advertising poster a powerful and ultimately artistic innovation. These posters were printed in the same period in which they were designed and cover every imaginable topic from theater and opera, to travel, transportation, liquor, food, fashion, exhibitions and products.
If this sounds intriguing, (and for patrons of the arts, it should) Culver City and Southern California residents will be the lucky recipients of an original three-day poster event called “Posters of the Past.” Put on by Bay area-based poster dealer Vintage European Posters, the show begins on Friday, October 24th and will run through Sunday, the 26th.
The “shop in shop” event will take place at the Helms Bakery furniture and lighting store Rejuvenation, which features classic American lighting and home goods with a design sense that reflects the different time periods of American houses.
The Berkeley, California-based Elizabeth Norris is the passionate proprietor of Vintage European Posters (www.vepca.com/) whose knowledge of this medium is second to none. Norris started collecting posters in 1997 and today her collection numbers over 2,500 examples of advertising dated from 1870 to 1990. “In order for something to be considered an original poster,” says Norris, “it has to have been designed for advertising, not something to be sold in a museum gift shop.”
Norris goes on to say that “collectables were meant to be saved, and therefore are not usually ‘rare’. Advertising posters are ephemera, they weren’t meant to be collected, and so very few survived. I am driven by the desire to see very poster every made, and so I track leads in the US and abroad, and I buy any and all which I think are good images.”
Having been to many events that VEPCA has taken part in, including the annual Los Angeles Modernism show, (www.dolphinfairs.com/lamodernism/) the show will once again not disappoint. To be able to witness up close the advertising masterpieces that these artisans created is intoxicating to the senses, so much so that it will make you want to come back for all three days.
Posters range in size from small ones that could be hung in your kitchen to larger pieces that would take up a whole wall in your house. Since VEPCA’s last Los Angeles appearance, Norris has acquired 120 posters to her collection, including Polish Circus posters, Roy Lichtenstein prints, as well as recently picked up travel and WWII works.
Rejuvenation is located in the Helms Bakery District at 8780 Venice Boulevard. The free event will kick off this Friday night from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 and beverages and light snacks will be provided. The show will continue throughout the weekend inside Rejuvenation (www.rejuvenation.com) during regular business hours.
My recommendation would be to tell your boss Friday morning you have a late afternoon meeting in Culver City which just happens to be on the patio at Father’s Office. What a great way to kick off the weekend with a fantastic burger and a tasty IPA and then to top it off, taking in some amazing poster artwork!
Contact Jonathan at [email protected]