Poster, 'Bally', colour offset lithograph, paper / ink, designed by Bernard Villemot for Bally International, France, 1989
This Bally ¬?Ballon¬? poster, a colour offset lithograph, was design by French poster artist Bernard Villemot (1911-1989) in Paris in 1989. It was Villemot¬?s last before his death in 1989 and featured prominently in Bally stores all around the world, including Bally¬?s Sydney store. Villemot created his first poster for the Swiss shoe manufacturer Bally in 1967 after which Bally and Villemot went on to collaborate for the next 22 years.
The founder of Bally Shoes, Carl Franz Bally began making shoes in 1851 and from uncertain beginnings the company has prospered tremendously. Today a worldwide network of Bally shoe shops operate including in Sydney. Villemot was first approched by the Director of Publicity for Bally Shoes to create a poster for the company due to a lack of creativity in the current designs. This poster was 'Bally' (1967) , known as 'Legs', which won the Martini Prize Gold Medal. The prominance of this poster in the Bally poster oeuvre is attested to by its reproduction on the catalogue cover of an exhibition of a selection of Bally posters entitled 'Im Lauf der Zeit - Bally Bally' (In the Course of Time - Bally Bally)' mounted by Bally International Zurich at the Museum fur Gestaltung in Basel in Switzerland July-Oct 1993.
The poster design is strongly reminescent of Villemot's poster designs for Bally Shoes from the late 1960s to the early 1980s and thus attests to his reuse of a successful design type.The poster designs promoting Bally Shoes began around 1910 but became increasingly prolific from the 1950s when the economic success of the company enabled it to advertise widely and increased the general public's awareness of fashion footwear. In the 1970s and 1980s Bally Shoes were awarded the Grand Prix of the French poster for the fifth time in eight years, Bernard Villemot being the recipient twice in 1979 and 1982. His work is also characterised by vivid colours, thin outlines and abstracted and organic forms. Generally the pervasiveness of Bally poster design is evidence of the success of Bally Shoes from the 1960s onwards, whom, because of their increased sales, had the capital to produce advertising posters of calibre. Villemot chose to use arrestingly simple, overtly feminine imagery to promote Bally shoes as stylish expressions of glamour, comfort and modernity.
This particular poster was mounted in the Powerhouse Museum's entrance foyer in late 2005 to complement the new collection-based design exhibition Inspired! Design across time. It was also displayed in the Powerhouse Museum's Stepping out exhibition during 1997. It is a dynamic and colourful image supporting the Museum's fashion, and in particular, the large shoe collection and illustrates the promotion of the fashion industry. The poster reinforced the Museum's intention to develop its collection of international poster art and design in the mid 1990s not only as stand alone objects but also as a way of contextualizing Australian poster design. Belonging to the movement towards an international graphic art 'style' after the Bauhaus and de Stijl, Villemot's other advertising clients included Air France, Perrier, Orangina and Bergasol.
Bernard Villemot is regarded as one of the finest graphic designers in France in the post-WW 2 era. He has held numerous solo exhibitions including that at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris in 1981. In 1967 Villemot was approached by the Director of Publicity for Bally Shoes, who, tired with the current publicity posters produced by Bally graphic designers, commissioned him to create a poster for the Company. This poster was 'Bally' (1967) known as 'Legs' which won the Martini Prize Gold Medal. His subsequent 22 year career at Bally involved the design of many other posters including 'Bally' (1969) known as 'Diamonds', 'Bally' (1974) known as 'Lotus' or 'Woman-Flowers', Bally (1982) 'Woman in Black' and the poster currently being acquired completed just before his death in 1989. All of Villemot's posters for Bally use arrestingly simple imagery and thus effectively promote Bally shoes as stylish expressions of the 'modern' and glamorous woman.
Villemot's graphic design style belongs to that of an international graphic art after the innovation of the Bauhaus and de Stijl and is not far removed from the evolution of painting, particularly the School of Paris. He is highly representative of a dozen other poster artists of the post-war period with his use of vivid colours, thin outlines and abstracted forms. His other advertising clients included Air France, Perrier, Orangina and Bergasol.
Since 1910 over sixty prominent European poster artists have been commissioned by Bally to promote their shoes. Amongst this plethora, Villemot is representative of the strong graphic (rather than photographic) style which is most synonomous with successful Bally shoe promotion. The poster acquired is strongly reminiscent of the designs Villemot produced from the late 1960s to the early 1980s for Bally in its use of overt feminine imagery and strong blocks of colour. In this particular design, Villemot infuses flair and sensuality into the poster by the use of elongated imagery and strong curvaceous lines which are both visually arresting and emotionally pleasing.
Produced by Bally Shoes as a limited edition of perhaps 500 or 1000. Many would have been displayed at outdoor sites in the street and on billboards but this one was obviously kept aside. The poster was designed and produced in 1989 in Paris, France. It was the last work Bernard Villemot did before his death.
The poster was originally designed to be exhibited in outdoor locations (see photocopy on Blue file of Villemot's Orangina designs on Parisian streetcorners) and perhaps in the Paris Underground. The same poster was displayed at the opening of the new Bally shop in Sydney (cnr of Pitt and King) in 1996. It is also featured on the front cover of the catalogue for the exhibition 'Im Lauf der Zeit - Bally Bally' (trans 'In the Course of Time - Bally Bally'), July - Oct 1993 mounted by the Bally International Zurich at the Museum for Gestaltung at Basel, Switzerland.