Another excellent poster book from the Antiques Collectors' Club. Though not a proper series, the two previous books covered railroads and liners with the same editorial format as this title: one poster a page (ten of them are spread wide) and an illustrated essay to the seven chapters. The posters are really divided into two sections, first are posters for the many car companies from 1891 to 1945, the second part looks at posters for racing, car shows and accessories.
Art, now over a hundred years old, used for selling cars back then seemed to feature a lot of females, not as you would expect as passengers but driving . Page ten has a painting for De Dion-Bouton cars with a lady in charge of what is really a motorised horseless carriage, this was in 1890 long before complete female emancipation. It's not until the twenties that the ladies become passengers in a male driven car, least according to the art featured here. Because this was a new form of travel there are plenty of posters for small manufacturers who eventually fell by the wayside leaving today's well-known marques, for example: Fiat, Citroen, Ford, Chrysler.
I found it fascinating to follow the changing style of art from the turn of the twentieth century where the posters used paintings and the typography was a kind of an afterthought to be dropped into an empty space. Two decades later a much more graphic style had evolved with strong colored shapes and bold type. On page eighty-one is a stunning 1930 poster for Bugatti designed by Rene Vincent showing a black upright shape with a speeding car breaking out of the top of the poster and just the company name in big letters across the bottom.
The speeding vehicle was obviously a strong selling point in the second section of posters about racing. Plenty of scope for artists to show cars at an angle with elliptical wheels and speed lines everywhere. The book's cover uses a 1947 Marseilles Grand Prix painting by Andre Bermond. This racing section has the most recent posters in the book, three from 1968 to 1970, two feature Daytona races days and other is for Porsche with a head shot of Steve McQueen, fortunately these three only occupy a spread because I thought they clashed with all the wonderfully exuberant historical posters throughout the book. The car shows and accessory pages only show work up to 1950.
Like the railway and ocean liner poster books this one has a clean, elegant presentation with enough white space on each spread to enhance the feel of the art. I think it's worth saying that all the posters come from a French collection and so they reflect European styles of art and design. Emmanuel Lopez has created the perfect historical look back for car lovers.
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