Featured Review: Marshall Plan: The Intra European Poster Competition of 1950

Featured Review: Marshall Plan: The Intra European Poster Competition of 1950 This artfully weathered collection of mid-century posters -- the product of a juried contest held by the Intra-European Cooperation for a Better Standard of Living -- displays the winning designs from participating European countries. The spare imagery in flag-bright colors tells multiple stories: of hardened hope in the wake of World War II devastation, of renewed faith in industry and of an almost pragmatic faith in diplomacy and peace, which appear not as far-fetch ideals but necessary solutions. An enormous key drawn in hard lines bears an edge painted in interconnected global flags; barbed wire is cut by similarly globe-regaled shears. Smoke stacks and brick patterns appear as decorative motifs, as elegantly portentous as branches of budding white flowers or firmly clasped, interlocking hands. The collection, on loan from Joe and Vicki Stone of Foristell, Missouri, is a small gem of a certain kind of design, informed as much by the spare aesthetics of the era as the imagery determined by momentous history. Whatever vestige of propaganda is displayed here, it seems not only warranted but far beyond the superficial flourishes, shallow styles and commodity-driven intentions of our current saturation in the glossily virtual and the ideologically anchor-less. Also showing: Regarding Place is a group exhibition of area art juried by Jana Harper, which includes work in a wide range of media that explores the notion of place. Highlights include pencil drawings of daily receipts by Joseph Lupo, charcoal and ink drawings by Mary Lamboly, paintings of domestic interiors by John Sarra, light drawings (photographs) by John Early, and a video of passing traffic, distilled to a wash of colored lights, by Felicia Chen. Through August 20 at the St. Louis Artists' Guild and Galleries, 2 Oak Knoll Park, Clayton; 314-727-6266 or www.stlouisartistsguild.org. Hours: noon-4 p.m. Tue.-Sun.

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