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Mid-Century Poster Highlights: Vespa

vintage poster, Vespa scooter

D. Ambrose, Vespa - Ca c'est formidable, c. 1955

In 1955, the high-energy French actor and singer Gilbert Becaud released the hit song titled C’est Formidable! (That’s Great!). It was a perfect marketing opportunity for Vespa to create a hip poster campaign. The poster shows the singer nimbly mounting the scooter as if it were a skateboard (a recently minted pastime itself, at the publication of this poster). The background was equally hip, with Vespa’s patented pastel colors in asymmetrical, intersecting shapes that echo Mid-Century furniture design. Fantastique!

Vespa, or Wasp in English, was named in 1946 for its narrow waist, high-pitched engine and antenna-like handlebar. The product was perfectly suited for the war-torn country, where consumer budgets and poor roads made larger vehicles impractical.

In 1952, the vehicle’s popularity skyrocketed when Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck teamed up on a Vespa in Roman Holiday. By 1956, 1 million Vespas had been sold. The Vespa survives today as one of the most fun products on two wheels.

This poster is available in two sizes.

Mid-Century Poster Highlights – “Tell” by Armin Hofmann

vintage poster, Armin Hofmann, Tell

This stunning poster, a classic of the International Typographic, or Swiss Style, was selected as a Swiss Poster of the Year award winner in 1963.  Strongly relying on typographic elements, the “Swiss Style” was refined in the ’50s and ’60s at two design schools, one in Basel led by Armin Hofmann and the other in Zurich under Josef Muller-Brockmann.  Both had studied at the Zurich School of Design before WWII, where they absorbed the modernist principles of the Bauhaus and Jan Tschichold’s New Typography.

Hofmann’s posters express a graphic purity rarely seen in any medium.  Restricting his palette to primarily black and white (and sometimes a third color), Hofmann used a mathematical grid to provide a unified and orderly structure.  Hand illustration disappeared, replaced by black and white studio photography, while traditional typefaces were replaced by clean and straightforward sans serif styles.  His poster for the opera William Tell is remarkable for its modern yet tension filled treatment that uses type to portray the arrow that whizzes toward the precariously balanced apple.

While collected by art and design museums throughout the world, Hofmann’s posters remain surprisingly affordable – with prices starting at just a few hundred dollars.  To view the Gallery’s extensive collection of his work, click here.

New! Mid-Century Modern Poster Exhibition

Global Persuasion Mid-Century Modern Posters

Despite the looming tensions of the Cold War, a sense of peace and prosperity settled throughout much of the world at the end of World War II. Populations rose dramatically, and technological advances such as the arrival of television and the commercial jetliner helped make the world seem like a much smaller place.  Global Persuasion explores the veritable “poster boom” of the post-war years, and the distinct consumer and corporate advertising styles it propelled.  An interesting blend of whimsy and optimism coupled with vigilance and Atomic Age anxiety, The Mid-Century Modern poster genre represented a monumental shake-up in the field of graphic design and has seen a meteoric rise in popularity in recent years.

Including 35 examples of significant Mid-Century Modern design, the show presents work by pioneers such as Herbert LeupinErik NitscheArmin Hofmann, and David Klein, and is on display through November 21, 2012.

Browse all of our Mid-Century Modern posters here and stay tuned for more exhibit highlights!

CONTACT US

International Poster Gallery
460C Harrison Ave. Suite C19
Boston MA 02118

P (617) 375-0076
info@internationalposter.com

Beautiful, Rare & Meaningful Posters from around the Globe.