Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Galeries Lafayette Summer 1932

Parisian department stores have a long tradition of the pursuit of extravagance and opulence in terms of display and product range. Galeries Lafayette had been trading on Boulevard Haussmann since 1912 and was famous for its central circular atrium capped by a spectacular Art Nouveau glass dome. This catalogue dates from 1932 just as the Great Depression was making itself felt in France - unemployment soared as economic growth stagnated. Fertile ground for the extreme Right, which surged on a rising tide of xenophobia and Anti-Semitism. The point of a department store was to cater to every conceivable customer desire and the 1932 offer extended to over 180 pages of hand drawn illustrations and blocks of descriptive text. Customers based in provincial France could keep pace with Parisian taste using the mail order form to bring sophistication to their doorsteps. Production values were modest with colour confined to the cover and letterpress printing on cheap paper. The range of goods is still impressive with clothing and footwear to the fore - but space was also found for the more obscure items such as communion dresses, baby carriages and reliquaries. The receptive reader would be engulfed by this avalanche of delights, an oceanic vision of plenty, poised to shower its blessings in return for the most modest of financial outlays. 

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Bridge Postcards of 2019

There are many boring postcards of bridges where little or no attempt has been made to find a fresh angle or a different perspective. The avoidance of cliché gives us something to cheer and this often happens when the camera has been placed on the bridge itself. Examples here include the multiple steelwork intersections over the Forth Bridge and the pedestrian walkway on the lower level of New York’s Williamsburg Bridge. Aerial views present unusual views of structural elements and a well composed conventional three-quarter view can reveal something of a bridge’s design idiosyncrasies. Unusually we have 3 bridges from close to home in Devon (Meldon, Teignmouth and Plymouth) with the rest from North America, Germany and the Netherlands with a single example from Australia. These are the most interesting bridge postcards acquired in 2019.