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GRANDIOSE marketing statements, like the claim contained in the title of this book, might invite disappointment from the discerning reader as inevitably more than a few posters included may not live up to the hype.
And, as is the case here, many classics are notable by their absence — Atelier Populaire, Rosta posters, Gustav Klutsis and Polish film and theatre posters among them.
But credit to Colin Salter for a impressive endeavour and the designers for the elegant presentation.
Post-impressionist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec is widely considered to have had the most influence in the development of the lithographic poster design centred around Paris’s entertainment venues of the 1880s-90s.
Lautrec, who was disabled, imbued his designs with great empathy, humanity and a palpable joie de vivre as in Confetti (right), designed for a London manufacturer of the wedding accessory.
The advent of the modern rotary press in the 1850s facilitated more intricate design, as can be seen in the image of the British slave ship, Brooks.
Designed by the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, it dramatically extended the appeal of its campaigning.
The succinct and powerful message contained in the typographically minimalist poster “I Am A Man” was originally designed for the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike but became iconic during the June 1968 Poor People’s Campaign and March on Washington DC.
Its organiser. Martin Luther King, was assassinated in April that year.
Jim Fitzpatrick’s Che Guevara (1968), J Howard Miller’s Rosie the Riveter, (1943), Peter Kennard’s Broken Missile (1980) or Shepard Fairey’s Hope (Obama, 2008) are embedded in the left’s DNA.
The odious manipulation of Saatchi & Saatchi’s Tory 1978 election poster “Labour Isn’t Working,” or the 1932 election poster for the National Socialist German Workers’ Party” “Our last hope: Hitler” evoke the “monsters that sleep of reason produces,” that Goya warned about.
This engaging book is a vivid tapestry of poster styles with diverse commercial, cultural and political applications supplemented by informative single-page essays that stimulate curiosity page after page.
Published by Pavilion Books, £14.99.
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