Monday 3 September 2007

John Falter Revisited

Three more examples of advertising art to admire from one of the unsung heroes of American illustration. The Schlitz ad is a special favourite showing Falter having a little fun at the expense of Modernist painting and sculpture. An unwilling husband has been persuaded to visit a museum of modern art. His female companion thinks a little self-improvement would not go amiss. But the Mondrian, the Pollock and the Paul Klees cannot compete with the unlikely but unmistakeable portrait of a glass of Schlitz. “Here’s one I can understand!” The world of contemporary art and the world of advertising rarely overlapped in the 1950’s and although the concept might not have been his, Falter is to be commended for the relish and enthusiasm he brought to the task.

The other two are excellent examples of Falter’s skill in handling large figure ensembles. Both images share slightly elevated viewpoints but exemplify different drawing styles. The “Gulf Coast Shrimp Supper” is conventionally modelled and conservatively representational. Four couples prepare to celebrate their love of freedom with beer and shrimps under the shade of the live oak trees. The Pure gas station on the right is rendered with a new transparency of colour and a strong linear quality to create a liveliness and sense of immediacy more in tune with prevailing styles at the end of the 1950’s.

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