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Poster Art

If your coffee table has been missing something, luckily there have been two new volumes of poster art produced, one featuring posters developed by the WPA, the other an international collection of movie poster art.

Book Digest Except for movie and music concert art of the late ’60s (JZ Lynch, R. Crumb, Skip Williamson), posters have not occupied as prominent a place in American culture as in the rest of what is called western civilization—for some reason, Puerto Rico has refined poster art and reproduction to a high level. As the shadow of the Great Depression weighs heavily on opinion makers and talking heads these days, we are reminded that Franklin Roosevelt and his advisors devised manifold ways to help all Americans in that time of great duress. On of those helpful devices, the Works Progress Administration, created jobs for thousands of Americans. And it was under the auspices of the Federal Art Project that from 1935 to 1943 the Poster Division of the W.P.A. employed hundreds of artists to create posters relating to community interests and concerns—conservation and wildlife preservation, health and safety, war and defense—you get the idea.

Posters for the People: The Art of the W.P.A. (Quirk Books) was written by Ennis Carter of the W.P.A. Living Archive, which is actively engaged in tracking down as many of the 35,000 known designs produced. This wonderful book includes about 500 of the 900 catalogued by the Library of Congress—which presently holds the largest collection. Additionally, the proceeds from this book are employed to further the work of the Living Archive—which claims to be the largest online exhibitor of these historic works. Which—need I point out?—is a good thing.

Book Digest Sam Sarowitz, owner of Manhattan’s Posteritati Gallery, which reportedly holds a famous collection of poster art, contributed to this impressive and massive Art of the Modern Movie Poster: International Postwar Style and Design along with designers Judith Salavetz and Spencer Drate and film authority Dave Kehr.

In this tome, 1,500 reproductions of post-Second World War movie poster art, spanning the moviemaking world (sorted by the 15 major moviemaking nations), represents an opulence of visual information as well as a chronicle of film history from the mid-20th century.

Both volumes are of the oversized, coffee-table variety, and are well-printed, well-designed representations of the imaginative possibilities of poster art—now all you may need is a coffee table.
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