Rene Wanner's Poster Page


CD cover, 7k Filmplakate der Oesterreichischen Nationalbibliothek (1910-1955),
CD-ROM Edition 1998, Hrsg. Oesterreichische Nationalbibliothek, Wien; K.G. Saur Verlag, Munich (D) (1998), fax ++49 - (0)89 - 76902-150; more than 3000 color jpg pictures for Windows 3.1 and higher; ISBN 3-598-40311-9; DM 88.00 (about 48 US$); in a mixture of english and german

This is the third poster CD from Saur, a company with vast experience in art database publishing. It has the same picture quality, search language and so on as the previous CDs (Political posters for the German Democratic Republic 1945-1970 and Posters of World War I) but includes a filmography, and is substantially cheaper. A description of the CD can be found on the Saur page.

It is an inventory of the Joseph Gregor collection, started in 1929 at the Austrian National Library. Beside many posters for die austrian Sascha-Film or the german UFA, there are about 500 posters for american studio productions from the twenties and thirties, and some from the early fifties. They are a representative cross section of what could be seen in viennese cinemas during the first half of the century.

The 3000 posters can be accessed via an easy to use menu which is grouped into searches for subject, designer, poster, and film. There are for example 293 posters with the subject Liebe, or 109 posters by designer Theo Matejko. About 1800 posters were made in Austria, and about 500 in Germany. The film search allows you to find directors (26 posters for Fritz Lang movies) or actors (22 posters with Hans Albers, 8 with Charly Chaplin). Combination of searches is possible, and the number of hits is always displayed, and the results are presented as thumbnails pictures. Clicking on a particular poster gives you a screenfull of information, and a full size jpg picture, typically 400 x 700 pixels. Both picture and info can be saved to disk for further use. Child's play, really. Several readers have asked me about picture quality. It is as good as you can get it from a jpg picture, but please judge for yourself in this original picture taken from the CD.

A fascinating aspect of these CDs is the possibility to search for picture content. Each posters was painstakingly decomposed into all its picture elements, and these were classified using the ICONCLASS system, that assigns a code to each of them.

Let's do an example:

We start with a Titanic poster, which we simply find by looking for the film title Titanic. Here we see, among other things, a steamship (code 46 C 25), skyscrapers (code 41 A 15), a film actor (code 48 C 87 11), half naked (code 41 D 9). If the beautiful nude young man turns you on and you would like to see more of the same, you would now simply search for posters with ICONCLASS code 41 D 9.

Poster, 4k
1928, Ad.J. Veroe
Poster for the american movie East side - west side by A. Dwan, released under the title Titanic, printed by Lindemann and Luedecke in Berlin

Poster, 5k
Bitterer Reis
1950, designer unknown
Poster for the italian movie Riso amaro by G. De Santis with Silvana Mangano, printed in Munich
Poster, 6k
Fiaker Nr. 13 (The daughter of the innocent prisoner)
1916, Theo Matejko
Poster for an italian movie, printed by Weiner in Vienna
But you may be more interested in how these codes are derived, and the CDs ICONCLASS software will also enlighten you on this point. It shows you the hierarchy of the codes, for example in our case:
4 Society, civilization, culture
41 material aspects of daily life
41 D fashion, clothing
41 D 9 showing one-self undressed, quasi-nude
41 D 92 women showing herself undressed, quasi-nude
41 D 921 decollete

Just to verify that the classification hierarchy works, I made a search for posters containing the code 41 D 921, which presented me with Silvana Mangano's decollete in a few seconds. I was impressed, considering that ICONCLASS was developed to classify the one million photographs of the Marburger Index, which consists mostly of medieval paintings. I now decided to see more italian movie posters, and came across an interesting early design by Theo Matejko, a talented man who later lost his reputation by doing Nazi propaganda. Clicking on his name (on the CD, not here!) will give you date and place of birth and death, and two literature sources to read more about him.

While the opinions on the use of ICONCLASS for a poster collection are divided, both on practical and theoretical grounds, we have here an example of a method that has been successfully applied to a large sample, and against which any other system has to be measured.

This CD is not a singing and dancing multimedia toy, although I like to play with it, but a powerful high-tech research tool and a rich picture archive at the same time. Any large poster collection could be proud to have its inventory published in this format.

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