Thursday, June 23, 2011
Bizarre Visual Artifact of the Week
Here's a moment in advertising history that beggars belief. Behold, gracing a Coca-Cola advertisement in the Ladies Home Journal: Stonewall Jackson pausing for a moment of refreshment. 1931. I kid you not. In this sesquicentennial year of the Civil War, here's some evidence of the domestication of that conflict, then seventy years after the fact. The romance of the Lost Cause, with a little soda pop to wash it down. Holy Crap.
(My memory of this image includes the copy below, curiously cut off in this particular scan. I'll dig it up--the copy only makes it weirder. The two-color printing [red and green!] is something else, too.)
Check out the soda jerk's hands in the strip on the right edge of the format. An extremely strange spatial discontinuity, seemingly just tossed off.
That would be a super-groovy device when James Rosenquist used it in Pop Art paintings thirty years later. Advertising is the research and development arm of modern visual culture.
Haddon Sundblom developed a great many memorable adverstising images, chief among them the Santa Claus Coca-Cola ads. According to the company website, Sundblom was signed to work on Coke campaigns in '31, so the genre scene from the War of Northern Aggression would have one of his earliest projects for them. (It may come as a surprise, but I did not find Stonewall Jackson on the Coca-Cola site. And yes, I know that Coca-Cola is based in Atlanta.)
And of course, Sundblom had a birthday on the 22nd of June (1899-1976). Which would be yesterday. Still running a teensy bit behind.
Images: Haddon Sundblom, Stonewall Jackson on the march...ready for a fresh start after a short rest period, Coca-Cola ad, Ladies Home Journal, October 1931; James Rosenquist, I Love You With My Ford, 1961; Haddon Sundblom, For Sparkling Holidays, Coca-Cola ad, circa 1935.