THE ART OF GENRE: POSTERS FROM HOLLYWOOD’S GOLDEN AGE

Artist Unknown, The Lady from Shanghai, 1927 Paper, Framed Insert, 14" x 36" Collection: Anonymous, Copyright Columbia Pictures, 1947

Artist Unknown, The Lady from Shanghai, 1927
Paper, Framed Insert, 14″ x 36″
Collection: Anonymous, Copyright Columbia Pictures, 1947

July 19 – October 12, 2014 (Extended through November 9, 2014) in Old City Hall

Guest Curated by Michael Falter, Program Director of Pickford Film Center

WESTERNS. FILM NOIR. SCIENCE FICTION. Some of the best-loved genres from Hollywood’s studio era (roughly the 1930’s-1960’s) also produced the greatest poster art, with mostly anonymous artists and designers promoting films they had never seen. The original-issue artwork, on display July 19 – October 12 at Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher and Old City Hall, will be a revelation to those who have missed these timeless examples of Americana. Many pieces sell at auction with prices that only well-established artists could demand. In conjunction with the poster show, Pickford Film Center will be presenting a summer of genre films from the studio era, all with corresponding artwork at the Museum.

The action, the plots, the femme fatales, the landscapes—all the elements that originally thrilled audiences often hold up today. Yet look a little deeper and we can see the sweep of history reflected in the images on screen. Social and cultural shifts, political upheavals, industrial (Hollywood) changes, and censorship codes: it’s all there in these posters and films from the studio era.

The exhibit is culled primarily from two sources. One is a collector who has one of the finest collections of genre posters in the country (who wishes to remain anonymous.) Josh Mersereau has been collecting posters for 35 years and currently sells them at the Penny Lane Antique Mall in Bellingham, WA. We thank them both for their generosity!