Film poster designs – the first 100 years of black cinema

Reel Art Press has delved into the archives of the black film industry to produce a visual feast of iconic posters from the past 100 years. The coffee table book containing over 35,000 authentic movie posters and photographs from over 30 countries demonstrates how visual representation and racial typecasting has moved on.

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Poster collector John Duke Kisch began sourcing his archive back in 1973. Kisch was an art student in New York when a friend gave him a poster for an old black film called Caldonia. He was immediately taken with the liveliness of the graphic design and many of the images for the book ‘Separate cinema: the first 100 years of black poster art’ come from his own private collection.

From the racist caricatures displayed on earlier films to the highly sexualized black female displayed on film posters for actress Josephine Baker, we see an evolution take place. A journey that ends in the more tasteful and classic aesthetics of posters for Stormy Weather, and more recently The Butler.

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The book also displays some wonderful examples of graphic art and typographic exploration, particularly those from Polish poster designer Wiktor Gorka.

‘Separate cinema: the first 100 years of black poster art’ can be bought and viewed on the Reel Art Press site. You can also read an interview with Kisch on the Guardian website.