The best vintage music posters are about more than nostalgia; they're a master class in visual marketing.
Does advertising qualify as high art? Curators and collectors around the world have already settled that question in the cautious affirmative, with street posters created by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec arguably the most famous examples of disposable ads (created to be displayed on Parisian kiosks, then quickly pasted over by the next set of posters) that art history has claimed.
The music posters in the portfolio you see below—a collaboration between Getty Images' new site FOTO and Ad Age—were selected specially for Ad Age's Music Issue. Just as a Toulouse-Lautrec poster evokes the Belle Époque and the clatter of cancan dancers at the Moulin Rouge, a glance at these images instantly summons the ghosts of our collective pop-culture past.
Some of them, like the one for the Duke Ellington concert or the Montreux Jazz Festival, probably seemed iconic even upon their release. Others, like the Beatles and Johnny Cash posters, in following contemporaneous design trends, probably didn't particularly stand out—but today they resonate as exemplars of the era's visual vocabularies.
Sadly, not much is known about the designers and illustrators behind many of them; the creative credits, with a few exceptions, are mostly lost to history. But all of these posters did exactly what they were created to do: engage in music marketing at its most elemental level, taking word of upcoming concerts literally to the streets.
Article by Simon Dumenco, Ad Age
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