Works of Art on a Budget

And Vintage Memories to Boot

For many years, I pressed my nose against windows displaying big spectacular posters from all eras and countries at the Chisholm Larsson poster gallery, on Eighth Avenue at West 17th street in the art heart of Chelsea.

Alas, I believed these beckoning works of art were too pricey. I stared not too long ago at a huge portrait of Arlo Guthrie on a masterpiece of an Italian movie poster for his iconic film Alice’s Restaurant. This poster of Woody Guthrie’s son brings a rush of fond feelings. I tailed Arlo while he was touring Ohio and Pennsylvania and when Alice’s Restaurant made him the singing star of the anti-war movement.

I was researching my first article for the New York Times Magazine—and no, I didn’t write that I smoked opium with Arlo (and time rushed but stood still like it does during acupuncture). Nor did I write that I declined Arlo’s sweet pass. He said, “Hey I been wantin to find me a Cancer chick.” Nor did I write that Alice herself was a cheerful lush. She took me to a party where the movie’s producer made an entrance dressed in full 18th-century armor, and Alice got drunk and fell giggling over the back of a sofa with her strong legs in the air.

Storefront, Chisholm-Larsson Gallery

Storefront, Chisholm-Larsson Gallery- Credit: http://shopikon.com

Back to the Chisholm Larsson gallery—and my own giddy pleasure making friends with its warm, welcoming owner, Robert Chisholm. (Unlike Alice, he didn’t know I was going to write about his spellbinding store.) I immediately discovered I’d been totally wrong about prices. Many incredible posters that make you feel blessed by beauty sell for around $200. Chisholm displays his posters like a high-end Parisian art gallery. The enchanting and huge (79-by-55-inches) 30-year-old poster of long-haired Arlo wearing a top hat cost only $550. I figured the rare, archival piece for well over $3,000. It would transform any room into a totally hip New York space.

I discovered that I really like gallery owner Robert Chisholm and could spend days listening as he adroitly flips through magnificent and rare posters by artists like Milton Glazer (“a really sweet man,” says Chisholm). Glazer’s glorious poster for the New York Spring Flower Festival ($24) features a beautiful woman with flowers for hair—reminiscent of Glazer’s famous Bob Dylan portrait. Chisholm really loves the classic Spanish design of a poster for an Almodovar movie Matador, Starring Antonio Banderas (“a cross between Cocteau and Picasso”). I loved a drop-dead gorgeous antique poster ($160) of a hoop-skirted lady and two tots feeding swans in Central Park circa 1875.

One Italian poster for Andy Warhol’s movie Heat or Calore ($500) featured my neighbor and friend Sylvia Miles as a young woman, lushly bosomed and open-mouthed.

Chisholm and his partner, Lars Larsson, have been selling great vintage poster art for more than three decades and have 45,000 posters on their website. The Japanese snatched up Polish posters (still reasonably priced) because of the clean graphics.

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is a customer of this store. Check out the gallery website (www.chisholm-poster.com) and prepare to be enchanted.

One Response to Works of Art on a Budget
  1. Susan
    June 12, 2012 | 3:19 pm

    Check out the gallery website. It’s splendid. I love the Korean posters!

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