The American Billboard: 100 Years

James Fraser, Author ABRAMS $65 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8109-3116-9
Circus posters, patriotic propaganda and ads for assorted goods, services and proper civic behavior have graced roadside America for more than a century. Fraser, chief librarian at Fairleigh Dickinson University, N.J., examines outdoor advertising trends from the late 1800s through the 1980s, spotlighting the realistic, airbrushed style of the '30s; the depiction of traditional values in the '50s; the tacit ``six words or less'' slogan rule that proved effective during the '60s, '70s and '80s. Prominent illustrators like James Montgomery Flagg (creator of the 1917 ``I Want You'' poster for the U.S. Army), graphic design groups like Milton Glaser et al.'s Push Pin Studios, trade journals and printing companies also receive brief mention. Progression from the glowing colors and freshly scrubbed faces of the early 20th-century billboard to today's slick, often computer-generated ad is shown in 166 illustrations, 150 of them color. Disappointingly, many posters criticized here are not shown, and readers will wish for less text, more captioned art. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-8109-2765-0
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