Connoisseur collection of dance-movie posters grace Barnsdall exhibit 1

mike_150“I was born with a poster gene! When I was a kid I used to ‘color in’ the New York Times (black & white) print ads for theater. When I saw the poster, I’d compare their color choices [to mine].”

Collector Mike Kaplan offers this charming anecdote in explanation for a lifelong obsession as we tour through an exhibit of his one-of-a-kind vintage movies posters. Sourced from around the world, the colorful high-Hollywood propaganda is now beautifully hung around the lobby of Barnsdall Art Park’s cozy basement theater. The theme focuses on classic dance films.

Kaplan, a long-time film industry marketing professional who also ports a fascinating IMDB profile as producer, actor, and director. He spent a good deal of his career hanging around people like Stanley Kubrick and Robert Altman. Now he’s a besotted connoisseur of movie posters (his collection numbers 100 just in the dance category) that he’s already generously displayed at Lincoln Center, the Santa Monica Art Museum and TCM Fest before this current show on Olive Hill.

And they’re gorgeous: richly colored, varied, and period-perfect in graphic design, each object contains a lively and marvelous interplay of image and text. The many beauty elements combine to celebrate not just the art of film but of dance. So, dance people, go see this show!

“I went after the best poster for the film regardless of country of origin,” says Kaplan with obvious pride. Many of the posters on view at Barnsdall represent one of three to four remaining originals. In short, they are rare. It’s not intended as fanzine fodder but as high art. Notes Kaplan: “The foundation of my collection is design.”

Kaplan’s conversational patter is inscribed below each poster.

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"Amanda" is the French name for CAREFREE (1936). A definitive image of Astaire & Rogers. When you think of them dancing, you think of them dancing this way.

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This one's by Al Hirshfeld, but he didn't sign it; in general American studios did not allow artists to sign their posters. It's a special large size, 40' by 60', printed in very small quantities on thicker paper.

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This French version was Gene Kelly's personal poster of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. I like the bottom montage of Paris. I like how the poster highlights French actor George Guetary.

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I just love this one. This was Norma Shearer's next to last movie; the poster is a three-sheet. The whole design of it; the dancing, the full length costumes, and the stars' names backed in pink.

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The Italian poster for SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952).

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This Danny Kaye poster for THE KID FROM BROOKLYN (1946) is a highlight of my collection. The colors!

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I love how the inverted triangle of the credits is reflected on the pink platform she's standing on. I like the playful "kid" fonts. This poster for POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL (1937) was by the great French poster artist David Olere.

One comment on “Connoisseur collection of dance-movie posters grace Barnsdall exhibit

  1. julie Feb 19,2013 5:28 pm

    I love these posters! I want to own them….

    Even more than these posters, I love artsmeme.com. It’s brilliant.

    Bravo, Debra for all you do for dance.

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