Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Far Eastern promise
Bettina Richter, who edited this interesting poster book, says in her Introduction that Japanese posters have long fascinated western creative types because of the mixing of very graphic character of hand-written letters, Japanese visual culture and from the sixties the slowly increasing influence of western commercial art. The 137 well chosen in the book certainly show a very broad range of influences and design, pages eighteen and nineteen show five from 1955 to 1961 with very striking abstractions for Nikon cameras, Idea graphic arts magazine and the peaceful use of nuclear power, pages thirty-eight and thirty-nine has eight designed by Ikko Tanaka from 1968 to 1993 using a mix of Japanese art styles, lettering and abstract shapes.
The book wouldn't be complete without Yusaku Kamekura's famous 1964 Tokyo Olympic posters though these were designed for an international audience so the red sun is the only national emblem used, three are reproduced. I noticed an interesting aspect to many posters in the book, it's not immediately obvious what the message is, probably because lots of them are for concepts rather than selling branded goods that would feature a logo somewhere.
The book is volume twenty-six in the Zurich poster museum collection and different from the other books because it features work from Asia (though book thirteen looked at Chinese typography). The posters are printed on gloss paper with a mix of one, two or four to a page. The back pages acts as an Index with designer credits, dates and sizes.
The book is an excellent short introduction to Japanese poster art.