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“The Big Picture: Illustration Art in the Printed Poster” appearing inside the Delaware College of Art and Design’s Toni & Stuart B. Young Gallery

Now through January

Digital displays are sad substitutes for the iconic poster art that once filled city streets, but inside the lobby at DCAD, those illustrated images still loom large in “The Big Picture,” an exhibit of poster art from the century past. The exhibit includes military recruitment posters from the World War I era, theater posters by Paul Davis and James McMullan, and a print of a 1962 tourism ad for the French Riviera illustrated by Pablo Picasso.

Walking us through the exhibit is DCAD Professor Alexi Natchev, a native-born Bulgarian who now serves as the area coordinator for the College’s illustration program:

“Poster art is a form of illustration art. It translates a message or sells a product or brings a message about performances, concerts, shows and so forth. But the gallery is not the place for the poster art. The poster was meant to be in the busy urban environment, to directly punch you in the face with the message, to grab the attention of the viewer who is not prepared to look at art. If you can compete with all the busy things, the pace of life in a big metropolis, if you can grab the attention even for 20 seconds, you're successful with your image.”

“We were fortunate to find this poster art dealer based here in Wilmington, David Pollack (of David Pollack Vintage Posters), who has an amazing collection of more than, I guess, 40,000 posters. There were wonderful posters that are photo based or typographic, but for us, what was interesting was illustrated image.”

“This is a very interesting example of poster art, because it's done in lithography, drawn onto a stone, before contemporary technology. This shows really the graphic power of the image -- no color, lettering by hand, but that brings authenticity to the image, in my opinion. The sheer size of this -- I guess it's printed on separate pieces, because the stones are not so big.”

“Unfortunately, since technology brought the computer, the role of poster is very diminished. You still have posters for Broadway shows, but it was in broader use in the past. In general, I see it as a form of art that slowly will disappear. But maybe ... the pendulum goes up and down, and at a certain time, the technology will be too cold and impersonal and distant. So they may need to go back.”

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