Antik Bar – Original Vintage Posters
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Antik Bar – Original Vintage Posters

antik bar aerotransportLong before we were saturated withantik bar city bar multi-media platforms offering us a countdown to film releases with teaser images or short film clips enticing us to faraway lands and consumers marketing their own glossy products, there was ‘the poster.’

Whilst the process of posting up hand drawn notices for public attention actually dates back to times of antiquity (printing advertising dates back to 1477), the pictorial poster offering hand drawn colour, narrative and often new design genres first came about around the beginning of the 19th Century. Whilst vintage posters today are largely synonymous with classic movies: old cinema houses (think the film Cinema Paradiso) and the old studio system issued posters to advertise and entice moviegoers into movie theatres often by depicting one scene or a visual essence of the film’s storyline, they actually played just as an invaluable a role in advertising, travel and even war propaganda. They also launched the careers of the poster designers whom in turn created and popularised design styles: Saul Bass (minimalist aesthetic), Hans Hillman (experimental motifs).

According to Kirill Kalinin, founder of AntikBar – the one stop shop for sourcing, selling, restoration of vintage posters ( part of their timeless appeal is that ‘every poster has a story to tell from when it was printed to who owned it. It’s actually one of my favourite parts doing the research because there were generally only roughly four of each poster ever made.’

Kalinin opened the AntikBar store (404 Kings Road, Chelsea) in 2016 after the online shop attracted customers wanting to see the posters in real life, ‘they have so much impact up close.’ Kalinin started as a collector whilst studying in New York in the mid 90’s and coming across a poster for an exhibition of a Russian artist, Gustav Klustis: growing up in Russia he knew nothing of this 1920’s period which wasn’t covered in Soviet schools so the poster was ‘a joint discovery of artwork of the period and a history of the country.’ AntikBar celebrates the power of the vintage poster in this way: Kalinin cites his favourites as the design led ones from 1920’s art deco to constructivist styles –  ‘they carry the appeal of periods like the Roaring twenties and jazz age that influenced everything from music, Hollywood, to furniture and graphics,’ and recognises the fact ‘they look great on a wall’ regardless of the message, as part of their recent resurgence in popularity and collectable appeal. ‘The resurgence of everything vintage a few years ago increased the original poster popularity. There is a growing appreciation of design and clients with an empty space on the wall don’t want anything mass produced so it’s a choice between poster or modern art – but with posters there is always an angle for personal connection whether it be reminding you of a place you travelled to or a classic film you saw when young. They also have timeless appeal because they were an early form of ‘mass media’ having to grab attention and appeal to many people.’

And collectors revel in Kalinin’s abilities and knowledge to source obscure designs: ‘one collector has 3000-4000 posters in his collection but will only buy anything with tigers in it regardless of the message!’ According to Kalinin, he sees the younger generation whom ‘are in an age of activism’ more interested in propaganda posters, particularly the Soviet ones and of places that no longer exist – ‘the romance of the travel posters for countries in the Eastern bloc for instance.’

The film posters are very much at the higher end of the scale – Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’ is still the world’s record sell ever (the 1927 poster achieved 1.2m in 2012 ) – it was 2metres high and only 4 are known to have existed. Today many actors and directors are big collectors in particular for Hitchcock or classics like Casablanca.

2021 is a busy year ahead for AntikBar: they will be increasing their live online auctions (which now can go on for 6 hours or so) and will be continuing work with their partners in California, Poster Mountain, offering conservation standard linen backing and restoration services. (It’s very difficult to know from a poster what has been restored or is genuine) Whilst Kalinin is sourcing more original ski posters at the moment, he is also appreciative of the incredible community and client base they have accrued, ‘we also have clients come in saying they were clearing out their grandfather’s attic and found some original posters.’

Adds Kalinin, ‘ultimately how we view ourselves is a one stop shop for anything poster related – from buying, selling to restoring.’