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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Illustrators #24 (Winter 2018)

Released in December, the latest issue of Illustrators is a French movie posters special covering the work of five artists as well as an overview of the history, illustrated throughout with some very high quality images from Heritage Auctions.

French movie posters are called affiches, the term meaning to 'put up' and attached to bills and news sheets that were struck to walls as a means of spreading news or (once colour lithography was invented) advertising. Film posters began appearing at the same time as film itself, the earliest recorded dating from 1895.

But it was in the 1920s that poster art began to find its feet, with talents like Boris Bilinsky, Jacques Bonneaud and Bernard Lancy taking them into new graphic territory with the likes of Bonneaud, Constantin Belinsky and Roger Soubie each producing over 2,000 posters.

This introductory feature gives way to five biographical pieces on five artists who, author Diego Cordoba says, "would become the most prolific and popular, and define the way French movie posters were done, all with their own personal graphic styles."

Russian-born Boris Grinsson worked in Germany until Hitler came to power. He fled to Paris where he created film posters until France was invaded and he had to go into hiding. In the post-War years, his posters included Hiroshima, mon amour (1959) and the Bond movie Bons braisers de Russie (From Russia With Love, 1963).

Some highlights of Clement Hurel's career included Voulez vous danser avec moi (Come Dance With Me, 1959), A bout de souffle (Breathless, 1960) and Le bal de vampires (The Fearless Vampire Killers, 1969). Like Grinsson (who produced over 2,000 posters), Hurel was a prolific, though precise, artist, producing over 1,500 posters.

Jean Mascii was born in Italy but raised in France from childhood. Les yeaux sans visage (Eyes Without a Face, 1960), Plein Soleil (1961), with its striking portrait of Alain Delon, and Alphaville (1965) all show his mastery of the human figure.

Rene Ferracci produced 3,000 posters between 1950 and 1980, all inspired by his innate sense of design and often focused on an object or a montage that gives an impression of the film. Michel Landi, the fifth poster artist covered here, was more a figurative artist, although he, too, had a keen eye for design.

If you're into movie posters and have seen plenty of British or American examples, this is your chance to catch up with posters from France. From portraits of Brigitte Bardot at her height to the graphically outrageous Landi poster for Duel (1972), this is a real treat for the eyes... with or without a face.

For more information on Illustrators and back issues, visit the Book Palace website, where you can also find details of their online editions, and news of upcoming issues. Issue 25 will feature Milo Manara, Greg Hildebrandt, Margaret Brundage, Art Frahm and pin-up art from Alex Raymond.

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