What would the posters for beloved films look like if they were designed by contemporary artists? A new collaboration between the independent cinema Metrograph and Absolut Art, an online art gallery that sells limited edition fine art prints, provides one answer.
As part of the collaboration, chosen artists riffed on posters of the past, offering updates to fan favorites such as “The Wizard of Oz,” “Suspiria” “Mean Girls” and “Belle de Jour.” We asked them to explain their interpretations, and what it was like reinvisioning these films into new, bold works. See the posters in person through Dec. 16.
“Belle de Jour,” directed by Luis Buñuel
Logan Criley, whose work focuses on artifice across digital and material landscapes, created this striking poster for director Luis Buñuel’s “Belle de Jour.” The artist, who grew up in Los Angeles, opted to give the 1967 film about a housewife-turned-sex worker a western-infused, cowboy aesthetic.
“It’s said that Luis Buñuel always dreamed of shooting a Western,” Criley explained. “[It’s] a playful take on the film’s motif of rope bondage and whips, [with] the lasso lettering hinting at a transgressive subtext. Inspired by Ed Ruscha’s text art and rodeo flyers, the poster draws a connection between erotic fantasy and wholesome Americana.”
“Suspiria,” directed by Dario Argento
Brooklyn-based artist Othelo Gervacio, whose florae-inspired works earned critical acclaim earlier this year, created a red velvet motif to complement Dario Argento’s dance-inspired thriller “Suspiria” (1977).
“Firstly, the fabric is often associated with theater and performance,” Gervacio said. “Also, the film’s use of the red is conceptual. ‘Suspiria’ immerses the viewer in the color throughout: the lipstick, the walls, the nail polish and, of course, the blood. Alluding to the extravagant use of blood within the film, the red fabric shrouds most of the surface of the canvas, only slightly revealing the title. The bright red creative passion that fueled the evil within the dance school has, in turn, fueled the concept behind my piece.”
“Modesty Blaise,” directed by Joseph Losey
The campy 1966 film about a reformed criminal working for the Secret Service gets a maximalist and futuristic update in Jeanette Hayes’s poster. Hayes, a longtime fan of bright colorways, explained that her creation was inspired by the beautiful protagonist in the action film. “‘Modesty Blaise,’ the cheeky, scorpion-tattooed mastermind spy, would have loved the year 2020,” she said simply.
“The Silence,” directed by Ingmar Bergman
Gregor Hildebrandt’s poster for Ingmar Bergman’s “The Silence” toys with reflection and communication — much like its source material. The Berlin-based artist, who often works with cassette tape and vinyl, used VHS technology to create his piece.
“I just did an exhibition titled ‘Words in Another Language,”‘ Hildebrandt explained. “Coincidentally, a character says the same phrase in Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Silence,’ so I printed a film still from the final scene, framed it within my Mirrorwork (VHS videotape mirror), and photographed the reflection.”
“The Wizard of Oz,” directed by Victor Fleming
Fashion designer and artist Item Idem turns “The Wizard of Oz” into a parable about artifice and technology in his rainbow-themed design, which incorporates the Illuminati’s fabled Eye of Providence symbol.
“Reinterpreting the poster for ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was as challenging as it was rewarding: Its iconography is so vast and vivid, so I wanted to give its legacy a contemporary twist,” Idem, whose real name is Cyril Duval, said. “The metaphor of the stage and the backdrop speaks about the man behind the curtain, and the notion that reality is never quite what it seems, which is a quintessentially Oz-ian theme. With my use of one of the most powerful and cryptic political images in recent history, I intended to render in an abstract manner the power of allegiances and global corruption.”
“Midnight Cowboy,” directed by John Schlesinger
Devout cinephile and artist Midnight Marauder opted to show a gritty, grainy and dilapidated New York City for his interpretation of the 1969 film “Midnight Cowboy,” the buddy film about a naive sex worker and his friendship with an ailing and caustic con man.
‘”Midnight Cowboy’ is one of my favorite American films,” the artist said. “It’s also a time capsule of the seedy side of New York of the late 1960’s. I wanted to capture the streets of the time with our two anti-heroes not taking center stage in the poster, but more inhabiting it very discreetly — like a vintage photograph.”
“Breathless,” directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Creating film posters is nothing new for Akiko Stehrenberger, who has worked with A24, AMC, Criterion Collection and more to create standout imagery for upcoming releases. Here, she reinvisions the French New Wave film “Breathless,” about a thief on the run in Paris, and centers on the film’s impulsive protagonist.
“His journey includes stealing cars and trying to convince a beautiful American journalism student to run away with him to Italy,” Stehrenberger explained. “In addition to the two main characters, his hat and newspapers played big roles as characters. The old joke that a newspaper is black and white and read all over helped solidify my choice for the color palette.”
“The Doors” directed by Oliver Stone
Skater, photographer and artist Peter Sutherland had a lot of preparation going into his reimagining of Oliver Stone’s “The Doors” (1991).
“As a kid, I had two Oliver Stone movies on VHS. A friend’s mom rented the tapes from a grocery store and never returned them, so I watched them hundreds of times,” he recalled. “One was ‘Platoon,’ the other was ‘The Doors.’ I approached the poster as a photographer would, to capture my friend Joe Appolonio playing Jim. Joe is self-styled and channeling Val Kilmer, who was channeling Jim Morrison. We shot it near the Manhattan Bridge, near Metrograph, but it looks like it could be in Paris, which is where Jim is buried.”
“Mean Girls,” directed by Mark Waters
Eric Yahnker lends his talent with graphite and colored pencils to Tina Fey’s 2004 blockbuster, replacing the ultimate “mean girl” Regina George with Ivanka Trump. “Believe it or not, I had never seen ‘Mean Girls’ when I entertained the idea of featuring Ivanka Trump for this re-imagined poster,” Eahnker admitted. “The film was just enough part of the lexicon where I got the gist, and using Ivanka as a literal representation of the title seemed exceedingly apropos.”
He continued: “A couple weeks after making the artwork for the poster, I thought I should actually check out the film. It made me doubly, if not triply, confident that I’d made the absolute right choice!”
Find more information about how to buy the prints on Metrograph’s website. Click here for more information!