New Additions to the AP/RC: Carlos Hernandez Posters

Posters, often colorful advertisements for products and events, grew in scale and impact in the second half of the 19th century following Jules Cheret’s lithographs produced for the bustling streets of Paris. According to an 1869 interview with English critic Charles Hiatt, Cheret admitted that the posters were not a good form for advertising, but were excellent for mural-scale compositions. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, in the footsteps of Cheret, Art Nouveau artists (such as Alfons Mucha) and the Secessionists (such as Gustav Gustav Klimt) embraced posters not just for their commercial viability but as a medium for new directions in graphic design, in a format of artistic experimentation that reached a large audiences. 

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Carlos Hernandez screen prints his posters in small editions, usually 75 to 100, setting his work apart from more commerce-driven offset lithographic posters printed in the thousands, often tens of thousands. Hernandez’s smaller editions limit availability of his posters, promoting a sense of rarity and, perhaps, encouraging contemporary collectors. His posters tend to be directed toward celebrating live music performances, but he also has a penchant for immortalizing printmaking events.

Hernandez’s attention to typography and layout identifies each of his prints.  An overarching “retro vibe” in his work focuses on outlaws, 1950s-60s popular American television, Texas musicians (e.g., Roky Erickson, Bob Wills, and Terry Allen), and Pop Art. In El Brian Jones (2012), a Jose Guadalupe Posada influenced calavera (a human skull) characterizes this nostalgia. The 30 x 40 inch poster announces Jones’ founding of the “27 Club” whose membership includes only celebrities who perished at the age of 27, among them, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison.

In addition to halftone images mixed with hand drawn transparencies, Hernandez builds his posters with selective, local color to embellish contrast and create dynamic graphics. He recently started to work in conjunction with Speedball Inks to develop and test their product lines. This partnership has already led Speedball to produce high intensity fluorescent inks for screen printing.


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El Brian Jones from “Til Death Do Us Part” show, 2012; Screen print; Image size: 762 mm x 1016 mm

 

~Michael Glenn

 

 

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