3 Min Lesezeit
Boris Bilinsky, Metropolis, 1927, © National Museums in Berlin, Art Library / Dietmar Katz
Andrzej Bertrandt, Solaris, 1972, © National Museums in Berlin, Art Library / Dietmar Katz

A movie needs a striking poster. Once upon a time, hand-painted billboards at cinemas were as much a part of big cities as colourful neo-panels. Nowadays, only a few cinemas can afford such billboards in large landscape format, made by special poster painters. For as long as cinema has existed (and despite digitalisation), posters have been the central medium in the visual communication of film: they advertise current flicks and bring cinema to the streets, in a way. A good film poster is advertising and art at the same time, it translates film into graphics, condenses the plot of the film into a concise motif, captures the atmosphere of the film and introduces stars and protagonists. In short: it arouses curiosity without revealing too much. From 3 November to 3 March 2024, the exhibition “The Big Screen. Film Posters of All Times” presents 300 original film posters from the 1900s to the 2020s from the graphic design collection of the Berlin Art Library and in cooperation with the Berlin International Film Festival and the Deutsche Kinemathek.

According to the announcement, the exhibition “traces a history of the film poster from 1905 to the present day: from narrative and expressionist lithographs in silent cinema to the world-famous modern graphics for New Film Art and Atlas in the 1960s to current design between paper and pixel”. In addition to German posters, works from France, the USA, Poland and other countries are represented. Since posters and their impact have a lot to do with taste and personal experience, the show was curated collaboratively: 26 people from the film and cinema industry helped select the exhibits from the collection’s approximately 5,000 film posters. Nominated together with the Berlinale management, guests from the fields of acting, directing, cinema business, film studies, art and graphic design were each invited to choose a favourite poster and explain their choice in an audio guide. Participants are: Anna Berkenbusch, Christian Bräuer, Carlo Chatrian, Adrian Curry, Thea Ehre, Maryna Er Gorbach, Liv Lisa Fries, Maria Fuchs, Douglas Gordon, Graf Haufen, Ella Lee, Natalie MacMahon, Vasilis Marmatakis, Lemohang Mosese, Maximilian Mundt, Elfi Mikesch, Helke Misselwitz, Ulrike Ottinger, Asli Özge, Kida Khodr Ramadan, Mariette Rissenbeek, Pierre Sanoussi-Bliss, Albrecht Schuch, Simon Spiegel, Verena von Stackelberg and Jasmin Tabatabai.

The selection ranges from posters for classics like “The Golem” and cult films like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” or “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” to blockbusters like “Jaws”, “Star Wars” or “Lord of the Rings”. Also on display are posters for arthouse and independent films from Neorealismo to New Hollywood and Pedro Almodovar. The superstar among the exhibits is “Metropolis”, a poster designed by Boris Bilinsky in 1927 in a large format of 2.20 by 3 metres, of which probably only this one copy is preserved in a museum. The tour ends with “Fan Art”, hand-painted large posters by Götz Valien and a look at today’s collecting strategies. In addition, a “pre-credits cinema” shows film intros and title sequences that enter into a creative dialogue with posters. In addition to a diverse programme of events and education, a symposium on 23 and 24 February 2024 will critically examine the film poster from a contemporary perspective. A richly illustrated publication will be published by Sandstein Verlag to accompany the exhibition.

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