Railway Posters

Here’s a terrific poster from France. It’s in a combination of styles – there’s a bit of art deco (the cinema style lettering at the bottom) and a bit of more modernist photo and information design (the engine and the route map).

It’s the kind of poster that could only have been produced in France, where issues of economy and rationalism in design are compromised by the desire for some kind of style.

You can date the image by the style of loco, the lettering and the use of photography.

Look at the locomotive carefully. It’s derived from a photograph and printed using a half-tone screen. In Germany, they would have retained the authenticity of the photograph. In Russia, they would have drawn the photograph by hand, to make a claim for realism. In France, they used photography and have manipulated it to provide a sensation of mass and speed. A kind of visual and poetic velocity…

You can easily imagine this as a proto-typical bit of photo-mechanical composition – all diagonals, machine-set type and a more generic sans face. Hat’s off to N (whoever that is) for these two posters.

It’s worth contrasting this poster with A M Cassandre’s more famous Nord Express poster from 1927.

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