Desmet Posters now online

auf abwegen

Finally! The posters from the Desmet Collection are now visible online!

On European Film Gateway, EYE Film Institute Netherlands has made an impressive amount of posters from the Desmet Collection available for the first time. 850 beautiful posters from the period between 1907 and 1916 can be viewed and enjoyed. See http://project.efg1914.eu/preview/ or go directly to the pages with the posters.

These posters from the 1910s provide a picture of a lesser known period in film history, and many of them are the only remnants of films that have been lost. From an artistic point of view, they reveal the essence of popular art in the early 20th century, with fairytale scenes with elves (Nan in Fairyland) and gnomes, illustrations of orphans, shipwrecks (Auf einsamer Insel) and terrifying spirits. Other posters show crucial scenes of confrontations between characters in the film. We also witness the beginning of the appearance of stars on posters, such as Francesca Bertini, Harry Piel, Henny Porten, and Vitagraph comedian John Bunny.

The humorous posters of Harry Bedos or Achille Luciano Mauzan and the dramatic designs of Vincent Lorant-Heilbronn (Anna Karenine, La Passion) stand out among the collection. We can also see the first signs of expressionist and constructivist posters (Paul Leni: Auf Abwegen, and the posters from the Werkstätten für Grafische Kunst, like Die Welt ohne Männer). The posters printed by Plakatkunstanstalt Dinse, Eckert & Co. (Der Geheimnisvolle Klub, Die Schwarze Natter) are very subtle and creative. American posters are mostly not credited to a designer and are less elaborate than the European posters, of which style contemporary posters still retain.

The site still needs some small adjustments and additional information. Posters from 1913 are all dated 1.1.1913, which seems hard to believe. Names of designers such as Bedos or Mauzan or printers are not visible in the information blocks yet (only in the search option of related names, so only if you know these names already). Neither visible yet are original film titles and production companies. Keywords are in Dutch, which is odd for an international database. And finally, this is only a selection from the posters in the Desmet Collection. Yet, the 850 images are all now within hand’s reach and have good quality, which is already a major step forward. Now the rest!

~ by Ivo Blom on August 22, 2013.

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