Politically Incorrect Vintage Posters…

Posted by karen ETINGIN on May 17, 2011 1 Comment


When describing vintage posters, I often say that they are like artistic snapshots of lost moments in time – images of romantic places, trend-setting ideas and social realities – the poster equivalent of a scrapbook or travel diary.


Certain travel posters provide us with details about tourist attractions that no longer exist: an aerial cable-car in Lourdes which, during the Art Deco period, was considered to be the height of technical accomplishment; a wonderful and rare poster for the Italian Travel Board depicting Rhodes during the brief time it was under the governance of Italy; and posters for all manner of expositions, exhibitions and fairs – like those for Montreal’s fantabulous Expo ’67.


But some posters could now be considered – in the politically correct times in which we live – scandalous, dated, almost offensive. Or not. A poster showing a native boy (I think it’s a boy) carrying coffee on his head in a 1950’s Italian poster was – to me – delightfully naïve and colorful. But when two women of color walked in to the gallery recently, they were divided in their opinion of the work: one thought it was definitely a put down by white colonizing powers, and the other thought it was a reflection of the reality of the time in which it was produced, and therefore an important artistic memento.


Another poster, from the very early years of the 1900s, shows a man of color using Romaine Shampoo. The suds on and in his hair are white, and the message seems to be that even a man of color can get his hair clean using this shampoo. Certainly not the message an advertiser would use today. But 100+ years ago political correctness was seemingly more limited to politics and advertisers were free to use this kind of imagery without remorse or fear of being labeled racist, paternalistic or worse.


The interesting thing – to me – about the Romaine poster, is the reaction it garnered in the gallery – almost every person who saw it had something to say about it: either they were shocked by the image, or they were reminded of other advertisements they had seen which featured smiling people of color (think Banania posters from France in the 20’s, 30’s and later)…


One day, a very tall and elegant Somali model walked in to the gallery with her (much shorter, slightly less elegant) French Canadian boyfriend. At that point the Romaine poster was up on the wall. They looked at it together – briefly – and while she sniffed her disapproval, he considered the poster and argued that without images like this – without the proof that images like this had existed – there would be no visual history of the fight for racial equality.


His girlfriend was not convinced, but I agree with him: posters, like photographs, can remind us of how far we’ve come, and how very far we have to go.

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Vintage Posters + Montreal - Raves from our clients

Posted by karen ETINGIN on May 12, 2011 0 Comments

Spring has finally hit Montreal in a big and beautiful way ... the sun is literally pouring in through the gallery windows and I have stopped asking myself why I live in this city (a frequent lament from Montrealers in the winter-time but something you wont hear from any of us at this time of year). Good weather always brings us out - to the terraces which pop up as soon as the snow starts to melt so we can remember what it likes to feel the sun on our faces, the our gardens where tulips are peeking out, and to galleries (like mine!) as people start to think about freshening up their homes after hibernating in them all winter long.

This spring has been fabulous for posters sales at L'Affichiste: vintage Chinese posters from the 1930's, Art Deco beauties in their resplendent colours, even some of my favourite Rene Vincents have flown out the door.

Some folks come in to the gallery and fall in love with a particular piece right away, but for others buying a vintage poster is a process which takes some time. (Occasionally I draw the analogy to dating: you see someone you think might be interesting, you think about them for a while, and finally, after some time you realize you just cant get them out of your head.) Posters are not inexpensive, and for most people, buying one means making some budget decisions - as well as important decisions as to how to frame their new purchases and where to hang them.

We are always happy to help our customers make their decisions, equally happy to help their frame their acquisitions, and delirious to help them hang their new (old) posters in their homes. Our handsome French Buvat has just found a new home and I think you'll agree - he looks perfect in his new space!

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Villemot, Bergasol, Posters, Sun....

Posted by karen ETINGIN on May 11, 2011 0 Comments


A recent visitor to the gallery used the word 'cheeky' to describe a poster ... at the time I thought it was a well chosen word (and one I don't use too often), but in relation to this particular poster it takes on an entirely different meaning ....

I love this poster - I had it once before and then when I found it again (in Italy) this summer, I just had to buy it (OK, I love it so much I bought 2!!). The description we have for it reads:

Bernard Villemot (1911-1989) was a French graphic artist known primarily for his iconic advertising images for Orangina, Bally shoes, Perrier, and Air France. He was known for a sharp artistic vision that was influenced by photography, and for his ability to distill an advertising message to a memorable image with simple, elegant lines and bold colors. From 1932-1934, he studied in Paris with artist Paul Colin, who was considered a master of Art Deco. From 1945-1946, Villemot prepared posters for the Red Cross. In the late 1940's, he also began a famous series of travel posters for Air France that would continue for decades. In 1949, Villemot's works were exhibited with those of his contemporary poster artist Raymond Savignac at the Gallery of Beaux Arts in Paris. In 1953, Villemot began designing logos and posters for the new soft drink Orangina, and over time these works would become some of his best known. In 1963, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris held an exhibition of his works. By the end of his life in 1989, he was known as one of the last great poster artists, and many collectors and critics consider him to be the "painter-laureate of modern commercial art." Since his death in 1989, his memorable images have been increasingly sought after by collectors. At least two books have been published that survey his art: "Les affiches de Villemot," by Jean-Francois Bazin (1985), and "Villemot: l’affiche de A à Z," by Guillaume Villemot (2005).(wikipedia)

Produced for the Italian market in the early 1980s, this poster is certainly a throwback to the time when we were sun bathers who didnt think much about UV rays - remember? The colors are vivid, the woman looks positively naughty, and with simple brushstrokes, the master shows us whos boss. Measures roughly 27 x 33, on period linen, in very good condition, this poster sells for $850. Please note that all of our posters are vintage, non-reproduction works of art.

Cheeky indeed - I love her eyelashes, her bobbed hair and the fact that she really doesnt seem to be all that embarassed that you've caught her naked on the beach... My kinda gal...

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The poster quest...

Posted by Stephanny Boucher on May 09, 2011 0 Comments

Although we like to think that we have everything our clients could possibly ever want in terms of posters, there have been occasions when we have had to  look beyond the gallery's wonderful Victorian walls. We appreciate the venture - learning about new posters and artists along the way - as we did this week for a designer friend who had been looking for Jean Cocteau posters for a while. 

The client walked into the gallery a few weeks back and was taken aback by the variety of our collection (he even bought some smaller pieces from the Document du decorateur, early 1900s), but one thing was missing - Cocteau posters. To our surprise we learned that Jean Cocteau was not only a playwright, film maker, dramatist, poet, and novelist -  but also a famed designer. Why not? His most famous posters include a pair created for the premiere of the Ballet Russes Theatre de Monte Carlo - which are absolutely stunning. 

This being said - we do our best to help our clients find pieces that truly mean something to them, whether these pieces are already in our collection or not. We appreciate the learning experience, and they get the posters they love...

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Vintage Posters - a little light reading...

Posted by karen ETINGIN on May 03, 2011 0 Comments

I like for my clients to know what they are buying. I figure if you are going to spend money on a piece of art, hang it on your wall and enjoy it - either alone or with others - the least you can do is learn a little bit about what you've bought. (Occasionally when I start telling clients - or prospective clients - about posters I can see their eyes start to glaze and I realize I have talked too much, or too long, or both. I've learned to make it short and sweet and wait for questions...)

Sometimes what I will do when a someone walks into the gallery thinking they want a vintage poster is give them a book to read - at home - so they can better understand the whole idea of posters (and perhaps begin to justify, even to themselves - the cost of a vintage poster which is a multiple of what its reproductive cousins are on Books are a great way to learn - and the Internet another... 

In any case, today's post is a primer on some books - most readily available, some out of print but generally findable on Amazon - which can help you learn a bit about vintage posters. The list is one I put together when I taught a course on vintage posters recently - if you feel I've left something out, feel free to let me know ...

Thanks for reading!

Abdy, Jane,  The French Poster – Cheret to Cappiello1969, Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. Publisher,  Library of Congress # 73-78923

Bowlt, John E.,  Moscow & St. Petersburg – 1900-1920/Art, Life & Culture 2008, The Vendome Press, New York, ISBN # 978-0-86565-191-3 

Carter, Ennis,  Posters for the People: Art of the WPA2008 Quirk Books, Philadelphia ISBN# 978-1-59474-292-7

Choko, Marc & Jones, David L., Canadian Pacific Posters 1883-1963, 1988 Meridien Press, Montreal ISBN# 0-929-058-10-0

Gallo, Max,  The Poster in History 1974, American Heritage Publishing Co./McGraw Hill Inc. ISBN # 0-07-022735-7

Gibson, Michael, Symbolism, 2006, Tashen Books, Cologne, Germany ISBN # 3-8228-5032-2

Guptill, Arthur L., Drawing with Pen and Ink,  1930 The Pencil Points Press, Inc. New York

Kimelman, Michael, When Fear Turns GraphicThe New York Times, January 17, 2010

Le Coultre, Martjin + Purvis, Alston W, A Century of Posters2002, Lund Humpries, Ashgate Publishing, Hampshire UK

Leopold, Rudolf + Schuler, Romana, Wrede, Stuart, The Modern Poster, 1988, The Museum of Modern Art, New York ISBN # 0-87070-570-9

Lipton, Ronnie, Information Graphics and Visual Clues2002, Rockport Publishers, Glouchester, Massachusetts ISBN # 1-59253-051-6 

Metzl, Ervine, The Poster: Its History and Its Art 1963, Watson-Guptill Publications, Inc., New York, Library of Congress # 62-21808

Symons, Arthur,  The Unicorn Quartos, Number Three – Aubrey Beardsley Published at the Unicorn Press VII. Cecil Court St. Martin’s Lane, London MDCCCXCVIII (

Muller-Brockmann, Josef and Shizuko, History of the Poster2004 Phaidon Press Berlin ISBN # 0 7148 4403 9

Thomson, Richard, Cate, Dennis, Weaver Chapin, Mary,  Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre, 2005, Princeton University Press, Princeton New Jersey ISBN # 0-691-12337-3 

Ulmer, Renate, Alfons Mucha – 1860- 1939, Master of Art Nouveau2002, Tashcen, Cologne, Germany, ISBN # 3- 8228-8574-6

Vollard, Ambroise, Recollections of a Picture DealerOriginally published in 1936 by Little Brown, Boston; Dover Edition published in 1978, Toronto; ISBN # 0-486-23582-3


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Vintage Posters in Montreal - only at L'Affichiste!

Posted by karen ETINGIN on April 28, 2011 0 Comments


When I opened L’Affichiste four years ago, my desire was to create a vintage poster gallery where Montrealers could – for the first time – see a well-curated, well-loved and well-rounded collection of non-reproduction posters from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods.  As a collector I felt I knew what people wanted to see and buy, and as a Montrealer I felt that this magnificent city of mine could sustain – and in fact needed – a gallery of this sort.


Four years have flown by and they have proven me both right, and wrong. I was correct in my assumption that native Montrealers and tourists would be happy to have – right at the corner of Notre Dame and des Seigneurs streets – a gallery unlike any other in the city and much like those which can be found in Paris, Brussels, Milan and New York. But the one thing I hadn’t counted on – or hadn’t factored in enough – was that L’Affichiste would pick up so many fans and clients in places like Australia, Israel, Cyprus, Germany, and of course the US. Some of our posters are hanging in beach houses on the Pacific, town houses on Park Avenue, and lofts in Paris.


Since launching our new site in February 2011 we have seen a tremendous increase in both foot and cyber traffic, and we are very grateful to all of you for that. Maison + Demeure (the Quebec version of Canadian House and Home) featured the gallery in their April 2011 issue, the website just did a short piece on us … we are thankful and humbled by the attention and we intend to keep at it: every month we have new shipments of posters and prints … the L’Affichiste collection continues to grow, and so do the numbers of visitors to the website – like you!

(There is a newsletter sign-up button on the website and for those of you who sign-up and order a piece from our on-line shop, we are offering a 10% discount until June 1, 2011 - so what are you waiting for??)

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Expo 1967 Posters - A Love Story

Posted by karen ETINGIN on April 26, 2011 0 Comments

This morning someone asked me to look for posters of Montreal Expo '67 - THE quintessential World's Fair! Like many of the posters people ask me to search for, this is like the Holy Grail: people know it exists they just haven't seen it for a while. In any case, in answer to the request, I wrote an email I thought would be a good blog post. Here it is:

Actually, my search (for you) of 1967 Expo posters resulted in a (somewhat long) story...

When I opened the gallery - about 4 years ago - all kinds of people would come in offering to sell me their posters. Habs* posters, Beatles posters, posters of everything you might think of, and very few were of interest to me as I sell vintage posters - primarily from the Belle Epoque to Art Deco periods.

One day an older woman walked in and told me her story: she wasn't looking to sell me a poster, but rather, she was looking for me to find her a particular poster: a variation of the Olympic logo for the 1976 Olympics which had been designed by her (dead) husband, Ernst Roch.  

He was - she explained - an artist whos work was hard to find and she had decided to devote her life to honoring her husband, his memory and his work by buying up every example she could find and donating these works to museums in Montreal and around the world.

Willa is not a woman of means, and this quest of hers means that she has to make choices: buying a poster means she has to decide not to buy something else. But she is determined. 

I have found her several examples of the Montreal Olympic logo poster (I will attach an image to this email as well) and that has made her happy. The last time she came in to the gallery she had another poster she wanted to find, and until this morning, when I looked for Expo 67 posters (for you), I hadn't found the one she wanted. Today I did: in Switzerland, at another poster dealer. 

So, on behalf of Willa and myself, thank you for giving me the impetus to look, and for finding it when I wasn't actually looking for it!

Here are some other fine examples of Ernst Roch's work:

From the website 

Ernst Roch (1928–2003) 

Ernst Roch was born in Yugoslavia in 1928 and arrived in Canada in 1953. But it was the years in Graz, Austria, which so influenced his thinking and his work. In addition to receiving an excellent education in graphic design at the Staatliche Scüle fur angewandte Kunst, the rich cultural environment of Europe instilled in him the highest aesthetic standards and the constant striving for perfection which are the hallmark of his work. This training was based on functionalism, where a design challenge was first seen as a problem-solving process emphasizing rational thinking and formal clarity. It was this “international” and “new” graphic design, as it came to be known, which he pioneered in Canada.

Ernst worked for three design firms before opening his own office in 1960, and was the principal and founding member of Design Collaborative in 1965. In 1972 he was a founding member of Editions Signum, a publishing company specializing in limited editions of original graphics, and in 1973 became founding member and president of Signum Press, a book publishing company. The founding of Roch Design occurred in 1978.

His impressive output ranges from trademarks, symbols, posters, and annual reports to complete visual identity programs, from architectural signage systems to thematic exhibitions, from postage stamps and official documents to book design and publishing.

Ernst has been a visiting lecturer at several universities during the last three decades, including the Art and Design School of the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Concordia, McGill, and Ohio State Universities, as well as the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

To his rational approach, he brings intuition and imagination, and a third dimension, that witty aspect of his design, which makes his best work unique and memorable. The German design publication Novum Gebrauchsgraphik has described his work as “clear, sober, and sensitive.” Prominent Swiss graphic designer and art critic Hans Neuberg has said that in his best work “the definite form consists of a blend of joyful graphic experimenting and intellectual discipline.”

Graphic design is not merely the visualization of information. It is a complex art form where, as Roch says, designers have a social responsibility “to inform rather than mislead, to enlighten rather than frustrate the individual in his daily life.” In his acceptance speech for his honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts in 1988, he pointed out that “the designer has an acute ability to communicate order out of chaos aesthetically, with intellect and wit, and sometimes brilliantly while investing the problem with personality.”

Among his best known accomplishments are the hexagonal symbol and the identity program for the National Arts Centre (Ottawa), the Queen Elizabeth II definitive issue postage stamps (1962–1963), the paper folding kit “Paper Zoo” (1974), the official poster for the Montréal Olympic Games (1976), and the commemorative postage stamps of early Canadian locomotives (1983–1986). He has also organized exhibitions, most notably  “The visual Image of the Munich Olympic Games” in Montréal and Toronto (1972), and the “AGI Posters” (Alliance Graphique Internationale) in Montréal (1982).

His designs have received numerous national and international awards and prizes. They have been exhibited and published extensively in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Japan, and are in permanent collections in the National Library (Ottawa), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Library of Congress (Washington DC), and the National Poster Museum (Warsaw).

Ernst was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the Alliance Graphique Internationale, the AIGA and the International Centre for Typographic Arts. In 1988, he was the first ever graphic designer to be awarded an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in recognition of his professional and artistic integrity and humanism, of his considerable contribution to Canada’s prestige in the field of graphic design, and of his drive and energy in bringing its achievements to international attention. 

— article by Michael Maynard from GDC Journal 1, 1993

Ernst Roch passed away on February 21, 2003. With his passing, Canada, and our profession in general, loses one its finest graphic designers. — from a tribute by Rolf Harder in

*the Habs (short for Habitants) is the fond term Montrealers use for the Montreal Canadiens, our hockey team, which - if the planets are properly aligned - WILL win their game tonight Go Habs, Go!

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Vargas, Pin Ups and 1930s China - Who Knew??

Posted by karen ETINGIN on April 24, 2011 1 Comment

When I started collecting vintage posters I was drawn to Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces - the former full of romance and sinuous lines, the latter bolder, more product driven pieces. Each period has remarkable posters and posterists to recommend it, and my collection started to reflect individual memories of places I had been, artists I had liked once upon a time, products I was drawn to by memory or desire. Cappiello and Mauzan became early favourites, Berthon and Privat Livemont I came to know and love later on. As I acquired each piece they became a part not only of my collection but of me - my home, my life, my frame of reference.

Recently a collector - let's call him Roger - started buying pieces from our on-line shop at Originally his collection consisted entirely of pin-ups (popularized in the 1940s and 50s, pin ups were favourites of service men who were separated from their ladies and who swooned over the art produced by Vargas and other artists of the period). I had had a few Vargas prints in the gallery

and I learned to like them and admire the women featured in them (who wouldnt? They are pretty close to perfect, with long legs, perfect boobs, and are always, always smiling...) even though they weren't really my thing. Anyway, back to Roger...

Last month, Roger decided to expand his definition of pin-up to include Chinese posters of the 1930s. Specifically, rare, vintage posters featuring women of China often selling cigarettes, Western products (like toothpaste, Sunlight detergent, Eveready batteries and  

flashlights. I am fortunate enough to have a large variety of these hard-to-come by posters by virtue of having received them from another poster collector who purchased them while on various business trips in China many years ago. (In fact, many of these posters were part of an exhibition which was produced by the head of the graphic design department at one of the universities here in Montreal and which traveled to Naples and Paris ...) They are considered rare for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that after the Chinese Revolution, even owning these beauties was taken as grounds for incarceration. Not many of these original posters are left and with reproductions available all over the Internet, finding 'the real thing' is not always easy. 

Roger feels that they are a good investment, that they add variety to his collection of classic pin-ups, and that they have great re-sale value (often collectors buy what they think they can sell or trade later). We agree on all counts and we think that Mr. Vargas (he who is synonymous with pin-ups) would agree too!

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Vintage Posters + Women of a Certain Age...

Posted by karen ETINGIN on April 21, 2011 0 Comments

Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Mid-Century Modern - How can you tell if a poster is vintage or not?

With so many copies of vintage posters out there, if it's vintage you want, here are a few pointers: 
Vintage posters should show some history on them: often they were folded, so some crease lines or folds may be evident (even if the posters are mounted on linen, and even if they are by well known artists like Cappiello, Cheret, or Cassandre); 
I often say that vintage posters show their age in the same way a woman of a certain age might (I am one, so I feel this liberty is allowed!) - small discolourations, hairline cracks, etc. - these are what makes vintage posters vintage;
Occasionally you will see a tax stamp on vintage posters - the French, Italian and German governments levied a tax on advertisers, so some posters will show this (copies never do - they somehow haven't thought to add them - yet!);

Most dealers and auction houses sell vintage posters which are mounted on linen - the linen doesn't add any value to the poster but it does provide a solid backing for fragile and vintage ephemera as well as a strong base when framing. 
The best way to tell if a poster is vintage or not is to deal with reputable dealers and auction houses. Those of us who have been in the business for a requisite number of years, and who have the credentials are part of an Association called the International Vintage Poster Dealers Association. There is a website where reputable dealers are listed. Like me!

Finally, if you're unsure, or the price is too good to be true, listen to your inner radar: you may not be an expert, but that's what inner radar is for!

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Vintage Posters - Chez Moi!

Posted by karen ETINGIN on April 15, 2011 0 Comments

 Today's entry is short and sweet - it's my entry (as in the entrance of my home) and it is my newest Art Deco vintage baby...

I think he's very handsome - a faithful hound going for a walk with ... someone who's wearing great boots! (He displaced a Grasset ... gotta keep finding new empty walls at home!!)

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