I love posters. From the beautiful Italian and French posters for aperitifs to Soviet propaganda art, from rock concert posters back to art deco gems.
Posters are both works of art and reflections of our culture, especially our commercial culture. Some of the most beautiful posters came from the travel and transportation industries – ship lines, airlines, railroads, and resorts and destinations (including world’s fairs). Since the Italians made some of the greatest posters, it’s no surprise that Italian travel posters are among my faves. What is a surprise is that there is one great book, thorough and beautifully produced, on this subcategory of the poster field.
Travel Italia: The Golden Age of Italian Travel Posters by Lorenzo Ottaviana (Abrams, 2007) serves not only to satisfy my own desire to lose myself in reveries about Italy, but also as a great gift for anyone who loves the visual, whether they are already into posters or not.
Once you are hooked on posters, you will find plenty of books, original posters, and reproduction posters available online and in stores.
One of my favorite stops in Chicago is Poster Plus on Michigan Avenue near the Art Institute (http://www.posterplus.com/). This store has reproductions and books on the upper level, and serious originals downstairs.
Another great source of books and posters is the International Poster Center (http://www.postersplease.com/). They publish color catalogs of their poster auctions which serve as beautiful books in themselves.
These sources have real experts available to help you.
Last I checked you can find a few original posters for under $1000 but real beauties run $2-3,000 and up. Way up if it’s big, famous, rare, or in other ways exceptional.
I know of one Chicago business owner whose entire headquarters is full of original posters – what a place to hang out!
If you haven’t studied posters before, there’s no time like now to start.