For unabashed fans of a famous artist’s lifelong work, a special kind of collector’s piece can be found with the original edition posters that were printed for a noteworthy gallery or museum exhibition. When printed with the date, these exemplary posters serve not only as the unique images resulting from the combined forces of artist backed by renowned cultural institution, but also as a bookmark in time, placing them in the context of the world surrounding them. Sometimes printed in relatively small editions, these exciting works hold an extra layer of status, carrying the essence of the figures they represent in the very paper on which they were printed.
Man Ray – Lips, offset lithograph 1966
What is perhaps one of Man Ray’s most recognizable images originated as a poster he designed for the opening of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1966. An undetermined number of Lips posters were printed for this, though today it is certainly a rare find to come across a first printing from this significant event.
Jim Dine – Two Ties, stone lithograph 1971
Jim Dine shows off his characteristic moody expressiveness, an ability he maintains even when looking at mundane objects— his ties become suddenly rich with conversation and emotion, something that the Museum Boymans-Van Beuningen seems only too happy to have displayed. This piece Two Ties is a stone lithograph poster from 1971.
John Baldessari – Margo Leavin Gallery, offset lithograph 1988
For a 1988 John Baldessari exhibition at Margo Leavin Gallery, this poster features all of the humor, charm and cultural commentary that he provides, with a particularly beautiful photograph to offset his flagship concept’s abruptness.
Rauschenberg – Albright-Knox Art Gallery + Art Institute of Chicago, offset lithographs 1976
In a large retrospective of Rauschenberg's works organized by the National Collection of Fine Arts of Washington DC, Rauschenberg changed the poster typography for all of the five locations, following the show around the country. Each one seems a conduit for his usual electricity.
Jasper Johns – The 50th Anniversary of the Whitney Museum of American Art (Double Flag), stone lithograph 1979
And Jasper Johns supplies the concept for which he is known best on the occasion of The 50th Anniversary of the Whitney Museum of American Art (Double Flag). The layers of irony, or perhaps merely direct literalness, are hard to miss, and even his typography is funny— what better an image to beg the question of whether the museum is representing him or whether he is representing the museum.
"...these exemplary posters serve not only as the unique images resulting from the combined forces of artist backed by renowned cultural institution, but also as a bookmark in time..."
Pablo Picasso – 172 Dessins Recents, Mourlot stone lithograph 1972
In emblematic Picasso form, a total change of style and pacing is featured in this work 172 Dessins Recents, a Mourlot-printed stone lithograph for his 1972 exhibition at the Galerie Louise Leiris in Paris. This unexpected painterliness, achieved with ink and watercolor, still nonetheless communicates Picasso’s undeniable enigmatic talent and allure.
Claes Oldenburg – Symbolic Self-Portrait with "Equals", stone lithograph 1971
Anyone who loves Claes Oldenburg will recognize his distinctive dark humor, which brushes elbows with nihilism while yet investigating the world as an artist, where beauty can be found in anything. Symbolic Self-Portrait with "Equals" is a stone lithograph printed for a 1971 exhibition at LACMA titled Art & Technology.
Robert Indiana – Atlanta - ART, silkscreen 1972
And in Robert Indiana’s Atlanta - ART we see the typographic language for which he is famous— and in this deceptively simple design he carries his artistry through the entire text of the poster, allowing for minor quirks and idiosyncrasies that prove an artist’s hand was at work. A five-color silkscreen made for a 1972 exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, Indiana’s distilled savoir faire is preserved in tactile perfection.
Jean Arp – Galerie Denise Rene, silkscreen 1963 David Hockney – Gregory, Los Angeles, offset lithograph 1982