Pour les aficionados des affiches
Advertising is officially ubiquitous now, art and commerce inextricably fused, and you could say the results are mixed: Ours is a visual culture of staggering richness, upon which we have no choice but to cast wary eyes. Who’d want to fill up his life with nothing but product placement?
It may be hard to imagine an era of ads so directly appealing that you’d pay just to own them, even regardless of what they’re selling. Yet that’s how it is with classic poster art. Whether nouveau, deco, modernist or some swaggering pastiche thereof, style is all the substance you need.
Affiche aficionados should enjoy the annual exhibit planned for this weekend at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 61st and H streets. A benefit for the Crocker Art Museum, it’s thanks to the collector Elizabeth Norris, who runs Vintage European Posters in Oakland. Norris has more than 1,000 original works (and her collection includes a good share of American stuff, too), dating from as early as the 1880s. After a month of rummaging in Europe this summer, she’d like you to see her new acquisitions. It’ll cost $5 to get in; the posters range in price from $300 to $7,000.
Even spelling out statements of ostensible purpose in block-letter certitudes and cursive decrees, the universal language of poster art seems more chatty than rhetorical. It talks you up on the breezy propaganda of a glamorous, glittering, leisurely life. Sure, there won’t be much in the way of radicalism on view here—unless you count the radical courage to remain unafraid of beauty. Well, who wouldn’t want to line his walls with that? For more information, visit www.vepca.com.