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There was a time…

Each year our department receives a number of posters for lecture series at various schools of architecture around the country. I’ve noted several, not because the lectures or lecturers made me eager to attend, but because their graphic design was hopeless. If the intent of a poster is to 1) apprise the public of programs or products that might interest them, and 2) provide information on the when- and whereabouts of those events, the place where those products can be bought, they were dismal failures. Deconstructivist graphics seem far more intent on their cleverness at the expense of conveying actual information.


There was a golden age of posters beginning in the 1880s with the invention of lithography and the discovery of analine-based inks, more intensive and exotic colors like Magenta and Paris Violet and London Green (or is it the other way around?). It began with figures like Toulouse-Lautrec and lesser-known but no less talented Germans (Hohlwein) and British (the Beggarstaff Brothers—James Pryde and his brother-in-law William Nicholson). Americans joined their company as did virtually every nation that participated in the larger Art Nouveau movement.


The Art Deco and Moderne were outlets for advertising art. And the Bauhaus and deStijl are well represented. Some of the most recent figures were Americans David Lance Goines and Lance Hidy. All of which leads me to wonder about economically printed advertising art in Agincourt.

Surely the local vaudeville and movie houses announced their feature films and acts. De Bijenkorf’s Department store had sales. The interurban and trolley lines enticed ridership. And certainly the circus came to town once or twice.

Lately I’ve been concerned about the beige-ness of architectural models, despite their three-dimensionality. So I hope we can entice a graphic designer or two to provide the necessary color that’s not in my repertoire.


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