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Back to the Future!

Back to the Future! Vintage Poster Exhibit

Ragan, New 20th Century Limited

Binder, New York's World Fair 1939

Bernard, Arts Menagers


February 6 - April 1, 2012

International Poster Gallery proudly presents "Back to the Future: Posters for a Brave New World," an exhibition of original vintage posters that heralded the revolutionary technological and social innovations of their respective times.  The show features over 50 original vintage posters advertising fast trains, exotic vacation destinations, new household conveniences, and more. 

Technological innovation breathed new life in to rail travel in the 1930s with the introduction of "Streamliners" -- aerodynamic, futuristic trains that were luxurious and fast.  Perhaps the most famous was the New Twentieth Century Limited, commissioned by the New York Central Lines in June 1938.  Commercial artist Leslie Ragan was tasked with promoting this exciting and monumental development in the realm of rail travel, and created what would ultimately become one of the most sought after American railroad posters of all time.  His Art Deco design for the Twentieth Century is a paragon of the streamline aesthetic, and it's bold lines of perspective provide a sense of scale to his subject that can only be described as monumental.

Also included is Joseph Binder's iconic design for the 1939 New York World's Fair.  The majestic symbols of the Fair, the towering Trylon and Perisphere, combine with images of plains, trains and ocean liners to announce an international age of travel.  Binder's classic image is now quite rare, being one of the most popular Art Deco images created in the United States.  It captures New York's unbridled spirit of dynamism and optimism, even in the face of a global depression and the imminent world war.  Presenting the "World of Tomorrow," the fair attracted 44 million attendees over two seasons.

Illuminating the exhibition's Art Nouveau offerings is a poster by Giovanni Mataloni for Brevetto Auer, a company offering home gaslight.  The poster's subject, a scantily clad young female, holds a lamp in one hand and a giant sunflower in the other amidst swirling and geometric patterns of orange, aquamarine and tan.  The inference is that the lamp is so bright that flowers grow as if in sunlight.  This suggestive symbolist tour de force is one of the most important of early Italian posters, so popular in fact that it was one of only four Italian designs to appear in Cheret's "Maitres de l'Affiche," a portfolio of the very best posters from the Belle Epoque.

Additional posters on display include Francis Bernard's 1933 design for Arts Menagers Grand Palais, a French exposition for new household innovations; an Italian advertisement by Osvaldo Ballerio for a 1908 automobile show; Paul Rand's clever 1991 pictorial ad for IBM, featuring an "eye," a "bee" and the letter "M;" and a colorful 1955 Space Age ad for television sets by French poster designer Alain Cornic.

See photos of the exhibit here!

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