Posts Tagged ‘Andy Warhol’

Haven’t I Seen You Before?

June 30, 2011

Would you believe that there will be yet another Three Musketeers film? It’s true. This version stars Orlando Bloom and Milla Jovovich and was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. The movie is scheduled for release on October 11, 2011. An image of the movie poster is floating around cyberspace and chatter on it is mixed. There are comments from those who like it, saying that it recalls a time when movie posters were drawn. Comments from those who don’t like it range from “Blah” and “Lame” to “Too busy for this poster. My eyes are all over the place!!!” As for me, I like the compositional style, I just don’t like the look of those in the poster. They have a going through the motions/ “I’m just here for the check” look. Below is the poster.

Moving right along, a recent story in the Times of India was about two movie posters. In particular, how a Bollywood movie poster for Murder 2 was very similar to Lars won Trier’s Antichrist. Both posters featured arms entangled in twisted branches and if there weren’t an Internet either no one would call attention to it or the attention would come much later. Anyway, below are the two posters in question.

What’s going on here? Has Hollywood’s current recycling kick spread to posters? Actually no. The reuse/repurposing of compositional and artistic styles has been going on since before the Renaissance. Both Michelangelo and Leonardo DaVinci influenced Raphael. Henri Matisse and pre-Roman Iberian sculpture influenced Picasso. A can of soup influenced Andy Warhol. I would go on but you get the idea.

So, it’s not a case of movie posters artists getting lazy, they are taking part of a long tradition of artists seeing something that they like and incorporating it. What separates art from a mere copy  is when the artist uses a technique in such a way that it becomes a part of his or her signature style. Of course, with the above-mentioned Three Musketeers poster, sometimes taking elements from the past doesn’t always work. That’s why talent is so important. No matter what the tools he or she uses, whether photography, computer generated images or acrylic paint, the true talent of an artist shines through. Think of the movie posters for Back to the Future and Mystic River (seen below and created by Drew Struzen and Bill Gold, respectively). One is drawn and one is photographed, yet they are great posters because two excellent artists created them.











Therefore, if the artist is good—a movie poster is a thing of beauty. If the artist is bad, the movie poster is lambasted throughout the Internet.

Keep this in mind the next time you look at a vaguely familiar movie poster.



Yes, Its Art

April 28, 2011

An article in April 15th The Standard of Hong Kong lead to this blog entry. I’m sure many of you have heard of the late 19th century French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. How many of you know that Toulouse-Lautrec got his start by painting advertising posters for the famous Parisian nightclub Moulin Rouge?  Many of you know of  the mid 20th Century American artist Andy Warhol and his portraits of famous actors and those Campbell’s soup cans, yet how many know that Warhol got his start as a commercial artist in the 1950’s and his works appeared in Glamour Magazine and in ads for Schiaparelli gloves?

What’s the point of this little art history lesson, you ask?  Simple, it’s that art isn’t just the stuff in museums. It is even in advertisements, such as those for a nightclub from 19th century France all the way to a movie poster from 21st century America. While the object of both kinds of advertisements is to get the viewer to part with his or her money, they  had to be visually appealing enough to make the viewer want to part with his or her money.

Which leads to another aspect of advertisements, namely they have a job to do. The most beautiful advertisement in the world doesn’t always lead to sales. For example, the first ad designed by David Ogilvy, the founder of the Ogilvy & Mather Advertising Agency and the author of Confessions of an Advertising Man and Ogilvy on Advertising was a flop. What was so bad about it? It was an ad for a cooking stove and he put in a picture of the Edouard Manet painting Luncheon on the Grass. Underneath the picture was copy about how new things shock people. Only towards the end of the copy was the cooking stove mentioned. What does a painting and shocking people have to with a cooking stove? Nothing and it was only after the ad ran did Ogilvy realize that fact. Well, so much for being creative.

The article in The Standard stated that advertisements are accidental art and I disagree. It took a talented artist to create these items, be it a poster for a nightclub or a movie poster. They had bring together both art and business to create something that makes money and that’s no accident. When it works, the client and artist are very happy. When it doesn’t, as in the case of Ogilvy’s Luncheon on the Grass ad, the artist either ends up with something that has the client scratching his or her head or the artist ends up unemployed.

Shock, entice, or befuddle, a good ad, like the good piece of art that it is, is never boring.


Ogilvy, David. Ogilvy on Advertising,  First Vintage Books, March 1985, pg. 25