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Railway Posters
Railway Posters
von Thierry Favre
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 47,49

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Rolling stock, 2. April 2014
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Railway Posters (Gebundene Ausgabe)
One of the specialities of the Victorian era poster was cramming in as much type as possible, the playbill is a classic example but European rail companies took it to extremes judging by the posters in the first few pages of this book. Not only large type for a heading, a main picture and maybe two more but also a route map and amazingly a comprehensive timetables. All this on a four foot deep poster and frequently the route map was as large as the main scenic picture.

By the early years of the twentieth century this very busy poster format had changed to a much more graphic approach with a big picture, headline type and no timetable. The route map though was a constant idea used for decades. Page eighty-six has a 1933 poster for the Italian railways using a very stylised graphic map of the route between Milan and Naples.

Up to the start of the Second World War travelling by train was the way to go, especially long distances. Page fifty-five has a 1928 poster for the twelve day journey from Paris to Peking, via Moscow and Manchuria or the Simplon--Orient Express 1921 French poster on page 148, board the train in Grande Bretagne (I assume in London) and travel across Europe to Turkey, cross the Bosporus by ferry and then onto Syria. The kind of journey that would inspire books and movies and you can still do it today on the Express, though only as far as Constantinople (Istanbul) with a change in Venice.

The posters through the book follow an historical theme from 1887 to 1986. The majority are European with the next largest from the US with several famous ones painted by Leslie Ragan for the New York Central, Australia, Canada, Japan and Egypt are represented. The last chapter looks at Pullman cars and the French company Wagon Lit and the poster selection includes six from the brilliant Cassandre.

Railway Posters (and the companion titles: Ocean Liners; Cars) are lovely reminders of poster art, all in colour, beautifully printed and with mostly one large poster a page. In fact large enough to be suitable for framing if you wanted to create your own transport gallery.


Car Posters
Car Posters
von Emmanuel Lopez
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 32,06

5.0 von 5 Sternen Poster motion, 26. März 2014
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Car Posters (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Another excellent poster book from the Antiques Collectors' Club. Though not a proper series, the two previous books covered railways 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 afterthought to be dropped into an empty space. Two decades later a much more graphic style had evolved with strong coloured 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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5.0 von 5 Sternen Small size --big sound, 18. März 2014
This is a seriously impressive speaker! I have a XSories Boom Box mini speaker (with an FM tuner included) which I thought was quite good for its small size though like most speakers these days it tends to favour lower frequencies with too much emphasis on bass notes. This OXA surprisingly gives equal weight to most frequencies so I can now hear cymbals on jazz tracks and listen to a choir with experiencing the expected distortion. I don't know how they've managed it in such a small size but music sounds terrific.

The Bluetooth works as it should and was no problem to identify. I haven't tried the phone option or the 32TGF micro card slot. The four controls on the bottom front feel a bit clunky and if anything is to go first I reckon it will be these push buttons. The speaker looks rather contemporary with the sides slightly tapering to the top. There is one annoyance though. The User manual is set in type so small as to make it totally unreadable. It's a seven page concertina folded piece of paper (55 by 43mm when folded) but the reverse is blank so that the text could be in a readable size if it was printed on both sides.


Nightwatch: Painting with Light
Nightwatch: Painting with Light
von Noel Kerns
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 39,90

5.0 von 5 Sternen The night seen, 14. Februar 2014
An impressive book of night photos revealing abandoned structures that litter the American landscape and following in the footsteps of the master of the genre: Troy Paiva. Though Paiva tends to concentrate on his night painting format Kerns offers a broader view in many of the photos here by using the light of a full moon. Probably more than half the photos use colour from gels placed in front of flashlights and strobes. Sometimes, I thought, this tends to be a hit or miss with a coloured light creating a rather artificial feel but other times, used rather subtlety, it creates quite stunning photos.

The range of places and things captured by Kerns is wonderfully comprehensive. The usual abandoned gas stations on the Interstate and of course the ruins of Detroit but also rusting dead tech, factories, motels, churches, aircraft, military installations and one photo of three train coaches with most of its windows missing.

Like Paiva's 2008 book 'Night vision' this book has captions for all the photos (location and date) but also frequently a few words from Kern's about the place in the photo and what he felt about it. It's not fashionable these days, in art photo books, for photographers to add any text thinking that the photos say it all but reading Kern's comments certainly give his work a lift in my view.

There are no page numbers so I can't say exactly how many photos there are but at least 250 which makes this a value for money title. The book is a handy square format with the photos printed with a 175 screen on a reasonable semi-matt art paper. The whole book is black which unfortunately can show up finger marks easily and I found a slight annoyance with the text, because it isn't a ragged right setting there are lots of uneven spaces between the words (OK a minor point but as a designer I notice these things). Overall though a fascinating collection of night photos and virtually every one pulls you into the composition, no also rans here.


Around the World: The Atlas for Today
Around the World: The Atlas for Today
von Gestalten
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 39,90

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5.0 von 5 Sternen A visual delight, 10. Februar 2014
A fascinating book presenting our world through the medium of infographics. Each spread presents a visual treat to reveal, what was initially, statistical information now turned into a pictorial form. None of the graphics were produced for this book so the contents rely on infographics designed over the last decade and appeared originally in print.

The Contents include: The place we call home; Living together; The days the earth stood still; The good life; Fear and loathing; Money makes the world go round; The world is not enough; Our greatest ideas. All fairly obvious though perhaps Fear and loathing needs an explanation, it covers guns, phobias, plane crashes, pandemics, smoking, drugs and because the book's authors take a slightly quirky view of this chapter it opens with a spread on Tarantino and the high number of deaths in his films (the diagram came from 'In graphic's magazine, 2013). I thought the Days the earth stood still chapter had some amazing images about the Titanic, D-day, Berlin airlift, Cuban missile crisis, 9/11, Fukushima and in particular John Grimwade's beautiful graphics for JFK in Dallas over two spreads

The art of turning words and data into understandable visual material is a challenge and doesn't always come off. Page eighty has a graphic explaining female emancipation in various countries and it's really hard work to draw some conclusions from the visual. The 550 most important US TV shows from 1940 to 2010 on page 160 is another graphic that isn't as successful as it should have been but throughout the book I thought the standard of work was incredibly high especially the pages that have pc generated illustrations.

All the graphics here appeared elsewhere but for the book the type on the originals has been changed to the same typeface throughout so there is a uniform look to the pages and a few pages need to be turned sideways to accommodate the originals. Usefully the Index includes credits for the artist or designer (and their web sites) sources for the original data and where and when it was first published.

The book takes a fresh, unusual and stimulating look at our world, the curious will not be disappointed.


A5/06: HfG Ulm: Kurze Geschichte der Hochschule für Gestaltung/Concise History of the Ulm School Design
A5/06: HfG Ulm: Kurze Geschichte der Hochschule für Gestaltung/Concise History of the Ulm School Design
von Jens Müller
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 28,00

4.0 von 5 Sternen The modernist school, 29. Januar 2014
This brief overview of the Ulm School of Design has an interesting pedigree. Author Rene Spitz says, in his epilogue on the last page, that the idea for the book came from Victor Malsy, Professor of Book Design at the Dusseldorf University of Applied Sciences. Spitz was invited to take part in a seminar about Ulm and part of it involved designing a book about the School of Design. This book is the result with the concept and design by Larissa Rauch and David Fischbach, though the Art Director was Jens Muller.

The book is in three sections: essays dealing with the history, closure and cultural significance of Ulm; a photo section of the campus and leading teachers with long captions about the teaching process and biographies; examples of student work from the four departments (product design / visual communication / industrial construction / information). For an establishment that only existed for fifteen years Ulm certainly earned its reputation as the leading educational institution for modernist design, page fifty-seven gives an interesting statistic: the school only had a capacity for 150 students. In the fifteen years only 540 male and 94 female students enrolled and amazingly taught by 282 lecturers (plus a flow of speakers like Charles Eames, Anton Stankowski, Norbert Wiener and Buckminster Fuller). The essay on the closure blames a lack of funding, Ulm was living beyond its means and the State government was reluctant to take on the debts without changes in how the place was run, the doors closed in 1968.

This is the sixth book in the publisher's A5 format (a series about design) and it follows the same style as the previous books, a paperback but it has a jacket that unfolds to a poster showing parts of the first five Ulm magazine. The editorial is in German and English. It is slightly unfortunate that all of the text after the first section essays is in small type (I estimate six point) which doesn't make for comfortable reading (so four stars). Also many of the pages have rather too much white space, especially in the student work section where most of the interesting photos and graphics could have been much larger.

Spitz says in his epilogue that his book is intended to whet the reader's appetite about the Ulm School of Design, I think he succeeds.


The Art of Rube Goldberg: A) Inventive B) Cartoon C) Genius
The Art of Rube Goldberg: A) Inventive B) Cartoon C) Genius
von Rube Goldberg
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 49,35

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5.0 von 5 Sternen The complete Rube, 24. Januar 2014
If you are not familiar with the art of Rube Goldberg I would say he is the American equivalent of the British Heath Robinson: both artists drew amazing comical inventions. Both were famous enough for their names to be used in dictionaries (Goldberg in the US Merriam-Webster and Robinson in the Oxford Shorter) as an adjective describing a complex bit of machinery that carries out a simple task. He also made it on a thirty-two cent stamp in 1995.

This large landscape book is an affectionate and wonderful celebration of Goldburg's art with several dozen examples of his cartoon inventions but there was much more to him than that. As well being a cartoonist he produced comedy shorts, wrote newspaper columns, did some screen writing for Twentieth Century Fox, starred in his own TV show, drew editorial cartoons and when he retired in 1964 took up sculpture. The first comic strip, in 1908, was called 'They all look good when they're far away', the crazy invention cartoons started in 1912 and by 1915 his work appeared in newspapers all over America. During the Forties he did more political editorial cartoons and I thought his style was rather similar to the Washington Post's Herblock especially in the use of a textured tone to show depth. He's quoted on page 169 saying "Political cartoons were easier for me than the inventions because they were almost pure idea, and the draftsmanship relatively simple".

Goldberg's delightful invention cartoons frequently had an inspired extra panel, bottom right, sometimes called Foolish Questions where he allowed his offbeat sense of humour to flow. For example on the invention drawing for May 14, 1929 is Foolish Question, number 47,389,100 showing a couple in bed with the word 'meow' in the window frame, she says "Is that a cat?"- he says "No, it's a mule giving an imitation of a mocking bird". Foolish Questions was, in fact, his first real cartoon hit when it started as a single panel in 1908, five hundred were created between 1908 and 1910 and book reprints soon followed.

The book is a treat to look through, the 194 pages probably contain a few hundred graphic items, obviously most are cartoon art but also historical photos and bits of historical ephemera and near the back ads that Goldburg either did the art for or appeared in as celebrity endorsements, book jackets he designed, photos of his sculpture, family Christmas cards and more. All of this is beautifully served up with handsome layouts and typography. A nice touch, I thought, was printing the older cartoons in sepia , sometimes on light sepia pages (all the sepia is four colour created).

Seven writers contribute all you really need to know about Rube, his granddaughter writes a sweet essay about him and I liked Peter Maresca's piece placing Goldberg in the context of American newspaper comics. With the wonderful art, essays and nor forgetting the fun hands-on front cover (your finger controls a tab that moves nine items at once) there will not be a better (looking) book about America's favourite cartoonist.


Colin Reid Glass Sculpture
Colin Reid Glass Sculpture
von Clare Beck
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 51,26

5.0 von 5 Sternen Reflections on cast glass, 18. Januar 2014
A welcome monograph that looks at the work of Colin Reid, the master of cast glass. In her essay Jennifer Hawkins Opie says that he sort of stumbled into working with glass by applying for a government-backed course on glass-blowing in the early Seventies. No doubt this taught Reid the fundamentals of handling glass though his creative output over the years hasn't been blown-glass (which essentially explores rounded shapes) but cast sculptural forms fired in a kiln.

Opie's essay is heavily illustrated with large colour photos of amazing cast glass that clearly reveals Reid's fondness for shapes found in nature and everyday life, for example there are several photos of two piles of books, both are polished optical glass but one is yellow rather than clear. Another piece is obviously based on several parts of a cello. The essay mentions Reid's commissioned work for companies and government departments. Page fifty-two has a photo of the massive work called Cipher Stone, created in 2003 for GCHQ headquarters in Cheltenham. The 78 x 82x 29 inch block was so large it took three months to cool to avoid the glass fracturing (the copy says it was probably commissioned because the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia featured commissioned art).

The second essay in the book (Colin Reid: An American Perspective) by Diane Wright reveals a country much more interested in contemporary glass than either the UK or Europe. Reid has had some considerable success in the States from individual collectors and museums. This essay is also illustrated with large photos mostly featuring work from 2000.

Between the book's two essays is a section called Process, quite fascinating because it shows, with twenty photos, how Reid creates his distinctive work. I thought it was a bit unfortunate that this section didn't have, perhaps, more photos arranged in a step-by-step sequence with deep captions explaining precisely what's involved in plaster, silicone rubber and wax moulds, casting the glass and finally grinding and milling. All this involves several days work and how different from blown glass.

The book is well printed with a hundred photos (eighty in colour) the back pages have a biographical listing with awards, commissions and exhibitions and an Index. A short piece on page 141 I found interesting. It concerns Reid's habit of not naming his work, preferring to use numbers though he admits he was forced to use simple names because galleries and curators wanted more than numbers to use in catalogues. His compromise was to use a simple name but still retain a number for each piece.

Anyone interested in modern art glass will enjoy this book.


Ocean Liner Posters
Ocean Liner Posters
von Gabriele Cadringher
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 31,32

5.0 von 5 Sternen The art of sailing the seas, 11. Januar 2014
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Ocean Liner Posters (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Originally published by a French company in 2008 this is a sumptuous look at the great days of the passenger liners that criss-crossed the world with posters from 1873 to 1962. The common element of the two hundred in the book is the art, either straight paintings or, from the mid-thirties onwards, a much more graphic style. Artists mostly chose to show these liners at three-quarter profiles from sea level making it much easier to suggest the power and strength of steel cutting through water.

I was interesting see that some liners were a mix of sail and steam, pages sixteen and seventeen show two posters from 1883 and what appear to be a sailing ship but is actually the Red Star 'Westernland' with two large funnels. To impress potential passengers Cunard posters added technical details about their ships, their 'Carmania' and 'Caronia' were 676 feet long and weigh in at 20,000 tons, the 'Campania' and 'Luciania' were 625 feet long, 12,950 tons with 30,000 horse power. Another Cunard poster from 1920 shows that artists could stretch reality to the limit, on page seventy-two the 'Mauritania' is so tall it breaks out of the poster edge.

There are some lovely posters from the thirties showing artists using a flat graphic style, reducing the shape and structure of liners to a sleek streamline appearance and with less copy in bigger type posters had a much more visual impact though some companies, like Union Castle, Shaw Savill or P&O, stuck to the old style of realistic paintings of their liners. None of the major shipping companies had logos so the obvious thing was to have a distinctive coloured funnel and there are three posters in particular, Cunard, Hamburg-America and United States Lines, where the main pictorial element are their funnels and they work beautifully.

The book's five chapters all start with an essay about the liners revealing interesting detail about the ships and their owners. Some of this information is quite fascinating, for example: the French Fabre Line owned the 11,885 ton 'Patria' which sailed between Marseilles, Naples and Palermo to New York in 1914 with 140 First class, 250 Second class and 1,850 Third class passengers (this is really cramming them in on a relatively small ship) compared with ultimate Atlantic crossing experience during the thirties on the 'Normandie' (82,799 tons) which carried 750 Cabin class, 625 Tourist class and 340 Third class passengers.

The book is a treat to look through, beautifully designed and printed on a quality matt art paper, the only thing missing is an Index. I doubt there will be better book about ocean liner posters.


Josef Müller-Brockmann (Poster Collection)
Josef Müller-Brockmann (Poster Collection)
von Zürich Museum für Gestaltung
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 28,00

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5.0 von 5 Sternen The Swiss leader, 4. Januar 2014
The twenty-fifth book in this fascinating poster series is devoted to Muller-Brockmann, this is only the sixth title dedicated to an individual. Because of his poster work, books and lectures around the world he is probably the foremost designer one associates with the 'Swiss Style' of graphic design and typography.

Look through the first few pages and you'll see MB's concert hall posters designed in the early fifties with strong figurative elements and typography using serif faces, these designs merge into posters using pastel colours, irregular curved shapes and sans type then suddenly, in 1955, the famous Beethoven poster appears with its carefully crafted circular abstraction and using Standard type (Anzeigen Grotesk). The style was set for all the stunning 'musica viva' series of Tonhalle, Zurich concert posters over the next few years. These posters are now decades old yet they look as fresh and exciting as they did when first appearing on Zurich poster sites. Their creativity is timeless.

There are 102 posters in the book from 1948 to 1978, most are full page with others four to a page. Lars Muller (the book's publisher) contributes an essay as Catherine de Smet on MB's design work and books. An excellent book for design students or professionals who want a visual record of this great Swiss graphic artist and typographer.


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