“Baby Boom: Poster Classics from the Fifties & Early Sixties” At International Poster Gallery
More than a half-century ago, the Fifties ushered in an era of peace and prosperity throughout much of the world despite the rising tensions of the Cold War. Populations exploded across the globe, especially in the United States, Europe and Australia. In 1954, the birth rate in the United States climbed above 4 million and sustained that rate until 1964, when more than 40% of the population was under 20 years of age.
The baby boom had a profound impact on society, modern culture and advertising methods. For the first time since the global depression, adults were free to focus on children and the simple things in life. Parents wanted the best for their children, fueling the birth of international consumer brands. Perhaps the best example is Coca-Cola, which created beautiful posters perfectly in tune with their time.
In 1953 Herbert Leupin, a Swiss artist who was pioneering a more playful, child-like style, offered consumers a fresh and family-friendly advertising campaign. Leupin’s first Coke poster featured a simply drawn music stand with a pause sign. His brightly colored and whimsical style marked a major departure from the more sober Object Poster Style of the Thirties and Forties and would become the dominant look of consumer advertising. This unique style was featured in products as diverse as cameras and film (Brun’s 1950 Film Gavaert), cigarettes and cigars (Morvan’s 1960 Gitanes), margarine (Savignac’s Margarina Gradina from 1953), and cars (an anonymous 1957 poster for the ubiquitous Fiat 500).
During this period, technological advances also fueled new consumer markets. In 1957, the first intercontinental jet schedules put world travel within the reach of the masses. This milestone led to an explosion of delightful new advertising campaigns from TWA, BOAC, and Air France among others. One of the finest was David Klein’s rare original printing New York – Fly TWA of 1955, a dazzling abstract view of Times Square.
Transistors put portable radios in the hands of teenagers, and the television became a fixture in living rooms. An elegant Philips poster by Eric from 1961 featuring stereo clock radios and a woman’s gloved hand highlights this category of the exhibition. Also featured is an A.M. Cassandre poster, created for Philips Television in 1951, which reveals the stylistic gulf between the earlier era and the new look as seen in Leupin’s 1964 poster for Swiss Television. Other posters by Villemot, Pintori and Garretto advertise revolutionary advances in refrigerators, office machines and motorbikes.
The triumph of the automobile over the railroads culminated with the funding of the Federal Highway program in the US and rebuilding of Europe after the Second World War. Good roads, cheap gas and inexpensive cars facilitated an increased interest in family oriented activities like skiing. Sascha Maurer’s charming Splitkein Ski poster circa 1955 advertises a new laminated ski, which promised to streamline the learning process and provide a more enjoyable experience for the user.
The exhibition also focuses on two major icons of the period – Audrey Hepburn and James Bond. Hepburn was so immensely popular that her visage spilled over into fine advertising posters like Blizzand raincoats by Rene Gruau in 1965 and Relax for a French Ocean Line company in 1957. Hepburn’s counterpart, the irrepressible James Bond, is portrayed wielding his signature pistol and sly expression in a rare From Russia with Love poster (1964).
Fusco & Four, Associates
8 Allenwood Street, Boston, MA 02135
FAX (617) 363-0406
In addition to gallery shows and special exhibitions, IPG’s award-winning website, www.internationalposter.com, offers the largest, most comprehensive online collection of vintage advertising posters in the world. Launched in 1998, the site now contains nearly 4,500 images accessible through a powerful search engine.
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