Sunday, November 8, 2009

Poster Trends: The Magritte Look

Continuing my focus on modern poster designs that pay homage to famous artists, I now present The Magritte Look.

This trend's a bit harder to expound upon because it's not very common, but it has appeared in enough posters I've seen to make me wonder how many more are out there that I just haven't found.

There's just something about Rene Magritte's Son of Man, huh?

Rene Magritte was a Belgian surrealist painter from the late 20's to late 60's. His work often portrayed odd and puzzling scenes in a very straightforward style, as if he were painting a still life. In his own words:

"My paintings are visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question 'What does that mean'? It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable."

I love that. His paintings are great. There's such a palpable attitude to them. A very dry humor coupled with a sense of wonder.

He painted things other than guys in bowler hats floating or standing around...

...but Son of Man and the other bowler hat paintings are the ones that designers refer to when they really want to portray their movie as "offbeat." I think it works, but it can be a cheap move. It's too easy to just mimic such a prolific image and force those associations on the viewer. However, I think the best example of its use is in the poster for David Cronenberg's, Naked Lunch.

It's a variation on Son of Man, instead of a more direct parody of it, like the posters for Everything is Illuminated and Toys. It's taking the layout and applying it more obliquely to the subject matter of the movie. The texture and color of the image are great, too. It's like an old photograph. The humor is there, but it's unsettling in a way that Son of Man isn't.

Next time on Poster Trends, The Warhol Look.

No comments:

Post a Comment