♢ EDITORIAL by Sal McIntyre, New York ♢
There is an infamous poster series designed revolving around an even more infamous car race that has been taking place over a span of nearly a hundred years, the Monaco Grand Prix. The artwork made to announce the new event each spring emblazons all of the exoticism, thrill and magnetism of the race itself, somehow steeped in an enigmatic air of mystery and excitement. Although the race still takes place today, it retains a definitive tone of a sepia-faded photograph and its finely aged allure, rich with nostalgia yet brimming with energy— this in part due to the electric art designs that helped carve the Grand Prix’s visual stamp.
The racecourse is laid out on the streets of the country of Monaco situated amongst the hills of the French Riviera, the landscape serving to offer a dynamic tight-winding set of curves and elevation changes, creating one of the world’s most eclectic and often dangerous routes, but that has been named "an exceptional location of glamour and prestige." The poster designs of such a phenomenon are nothing short of glimmering, like the swimming waves of mirage rising from the concrete in the heat.
This 1952 design by artist B. Minne seems to capture the influence of the car’s energy on the landscape, and conversely the influence of the landscape’s energy on the car. All of the natural and historical splendor of the Monaco backdrop infuses with the feelings and sounds of a vintage engine— the spirit is catching. This print is a beautiful 1985 stone lithograph reproduction of the original, printed in France on Velin paper.
And in another exquisite stone lithograph reproduction of B. Minne’s effortless mastery, this 1950 design again seizes the spirit of watching these classic automobiles in motion too fast to record, the sensations of sun and wind pulling with significant sway, and the brassiness of auto racing decor pinning the work neatly in place.
Robert Falcucci communicates the dreaminess of the Monaco countryside, his colors and forms lending themselves to the smell of salt sea air and the essence of vacation. This 1932 design combines an intoxicating pair of styles, one of rendered gradient tone and one of flattened block shape, which brings the piece into an active atmosphere, seeming almost alive.
An unknown artist creates a 1959 piece focused on the unique car designs, with black and red supplying a perfect punch. The simple composition heightens the impact, a nod towards the checkerboard styles of car racing imagery.
Jean Ramel crafts a 1956 ambiance of the dry heat that goes along with a sandy topography, with the silhouettes of hillside architecture dissipating downwards to give way to the fervor of the race.
Another Falcucci design from 1930 again shows an ecstatic mix of stylization and rendering, the detail serving to create sparks of light that fill in the gaps— it seems almost as though we are watching a film rather than looking at a still image.
And yet again, an unknown artist here captures the sense of motion and drama with the brilliant seduction that hides amidst such energetic execution. This 1985 design is reminiscent of Japanese comics, with an artful combination of flat form and careful detail, distilled description and vibrant flourish.
All of these prints are masterful Parisian stone lithographs, vintage handmade reproductions of the original designs. The eggshell toned Velin paper they are printed on is a superb foundation to showcase these extraordinary designs, both clean and exacting, warm and full at the same time.