These striking designs from the last half of the 20th century survey cultural, scientific, and commercial developments, from the Cannes Film Festival to San Francisco rock ‘n’ roll, Rolex to Perrier, nuclear fision to race relations, and more.
24 x 39 in./61 x 99 cm
Piva gives us a meta movie moment: against the Mediterranean Sea, a camera sets its sight on the Palais du Festival, which is reflected back to us with its myriad flags. Without a frame of film or an excess of frill, Piva’s design focuses on the monumental nature of an event well on its way to becoming an institution.
14 x 21 in./35.5 x 53.3 cm
A sea of the dead—or rather, the Grateful Dead—shove their way through the audience to the front of the stage, where an even grimmer skeleton has been bound by ball and chain. The Dead, as it turns out, had just been busted for drug possession in New Orleans, and in the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll community, this benefit concert was held to raise funds to bail them out. Getting arrested had another benefit: it gave rise to the now infamous line in “Truckin’,” “Busted, down on Bourbon Street.”
38 1/2 x 54 1/2 in./98 x 138.2 cm
This is the English language printing of the poster promoting the legendary “Rumble in the Jungle,” held in Kinshasa, Zaire on October 29, 1974. One of the truly titanic events in the history of sports, the underdog (but crowd favorite) Ali played rope-a-dope with the sledgehammer-fisted Foreman before delivering the knockout blow in the 8th round. This fight was the world’s most-watched live television broadcast at the time with an estimated audience of 1 billion viewers worldwide, including a record estimated 50 million viewers watching the fight pay-per-view. This poster includes a tip-on for the date change from September 25 due to an injury Foreman experienced.
24 1/4 x 34 1/4 in./61.5 x 87 cm
Today’s ad industry is completely insane—and even more so than in the Mad Men days—as they employ thousands of hours of consumer research, attitudinal studies, focus groups, messaging analysis, A/B tests, marketing funnels, networks, competitive PsyOps… Once upon a time, long ago, it was simple: idea, art, message. Rolex’s logo is a kingly crown. Rolex watches are regal instruments. Rolex is the choice of kings. One and done, says Herbert Leupin—now where’s my martini?
35 1/2 x 50 1/4 in./90.3 x 127.7 cm
Nitsche’s Exploring the Universe series was displayed during the second International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy held in Geneva in September, 1958. During this Cold War period, the nuclear arms race was fierce, and the president of General Dynamics believed that their campaigns should be presented as peaceful rather than destructive. “He further understood that presenting a good public face was endemic to this goal. Nitsche’s ads for them stood out like gems, using an abstract drawing style to give a modern aura that at once hinted at General Dynamics’ often top-secret products as well as its progressive aspirations” (I Heart Design, p. 54).
63 x 91 7/8 in./160 x 233.5 cm
One of Savignac’s most inspired and famous designs, this poster truly made Perrier a household name. Below, the text reads “the water that goes pschitt”—the perfect articulation of the noise which occurs when you remove the bottle cap. This is the two-sheet version of the poster.
29 x 42 1/8 in./73.8 x 107 cm
Steinberg’s 1976 cover for The New Yorker, also used as a poster, became legendary, iconic, endlessly copied and parodied throughout global culture, and a paragon of wit. Cover illustrations for The New Yorker have always set the bar for flashes of deep insight. But none surpass Saul Steinberg’s succinct encapsulation of a Manhattan mindset: globally self-important, yet improbably, paradoxically, deeply provincial at the same time.
19 5/8 x 28 1/8 in./49.8 x 71.4 cm
“Black Power/White Power” is an intentionally uncomfortable design that zeroes in on American racial conflicts of the 1960s—but, as we’ve all realized this past year, those issues are far from resolved. This poster is perhaps more relevant than ever, but Ungerer never could have imagined that when he designed this in 1967. The image is “Ungerer’s graphic response to racial injustice. Now an icon of political posters, this inflammatory image targets not simply racism against African Americans, but extremism on both sides. Of [his political posters] Ungerer observes, ‘I create political drawing because I feel the need for it. Because I am angry” (Ungerer/All in One, p. 99).
47 x 68 1/4 in./119.4 x 173.2 cm
One of Villemot’s most whimsical designs for Perrier, this one features two bottles of the beverage as spectacles on a wild redhead.