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Theater Posters of James McMullan
ISBN 0141003634 / 9780141003634 / 0-14-100363-4
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Theater posters, as producer Bernard Gerstein writes in the introduction to this sumptuous book, are a strange combination of fine art, illustration, and advertising. But all three elements are rarely combined as successfully as in James McMullan's posters, which for over twenty years have been catching the eyes of New Yorkers on billboards, subway platforms, and along the sides of buses.
McMullan has had a long-standing, fruitful relationship with Lincoln Center. While the 35 posters he developed for the Center have given it a recognizable graphic identity, they've given McMullan the opportunity to experiment and hone his craft in a medium more often the purview of advertising executives and marketing strategists. The result is a body of work that celebrates the expressive power of the human form, including the celebrated image of the yakking newspaperman from his poster for The Front Page and the saucy over-the-shoulder peek from the alluring ingenue of Anything Goes.
As an added treat, McMullan includes sketches, first drafts, photos of models, and several rejected or cropped designs, including a poster for Waiting for Godot and a portrait of Sam Waterston for Abe Lincoln in Illinois that are as good as anything in the book. With their joyous use of primary colors and dynamic capturing of actors in motion, these images are both wonderfully decorative and a fine celebration of the spontaneous excitement of live theater. --John Longenbaugh [via]