Over the past couple of decades movie posters have become both accepted forms of art and highly collectable. Posters for films such as King Kong and Metropolis change hands for thousands of pounds and the very best of the form are critically praised and much sought after. But there has also been a growth in respectability for pictures and paintings inspired by the movies; images featuring homages and pastiches of cult films – art inspired by art.
Many artists these days take a favourite film and design fake (or Alt) posters for it, they use the characters and scenes from the films to present their own spin on the movie, often incorporating obscure references which only other fans will understand, and it’s become very popular, not to mention lucrative. The artists behind the images are now becoming well-known, with one of the genre’s leading exponents, Shephard Fairey, being responsible for one of the most praised and powerful images of the past decade – the Obama ‘Hope’ poster.
The images obviously owe a heavy debt to the Polish School of Posters and the cinema art created during the cold war in Eastern Europe (particularly in the 1960’s, promotional posters for American films were often banned so artists created fantastical versions of them, many of which are significantly superior and certainly more imaginative than the originals), some lean heavily on pastiches of famous artists such as Dali and Banksy and almost all of them require a knowledge of the film to render them entirely comprehensible. They’re also funny, something that studio-controlled, star-pleasing major movie posters never are.
Over the past few years the Crazy 4 Cult art gallery show in Los Angeles has showcased the best work of America’s cinema-obsessed artists, their shows have become increasingly renowned and now a book (Crazy 4 Cult, Titan Books) has been published showcasing the best of the last 4 shows. It’s lavishly illustrated and a great stating point for those interested in this world.
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