Cine-calendar 2004 — from film posters by Touliatos

Entrancing images from the personal archives of Gerasimos-Memas Touliatos, including portraits of famous men and women who have beckoned us into the foyers of cinemas to share with them a love story, a police drama, a war adventure, an escape from reality in Vistavision or Cinemascope, have now been released in calendar form. From the 1940s to the 1990s, these giant posters were extremely popular, particularly in the early postwar years when cinema was the most accessible form of entertainment for all ages, the must-do weekend outing. The art of the giant poster, which old-timers used to call «decor,» was cultivated by set designers at theaters, and the term «giant poster» was first used by Frantzis Trantzeskakis at the Zygos Gallery. An ephemeral art, the posters were taken down on Sunday night to be replaced by the poster for the next film. As time went by, and thanks to the collectors that rushed to claim the posters as soon as they were taken down, the art form gained recognition as a technique and as an «applied art» in itself, according to Gerasimos Touliatos. Touliatos and his student Marios Hondroyiannis – who still has a studio – are the living representatives of this art form that begins and ends with the cinema and its magic. The leaders in the field are Stefanos Almaliotis, Nikolaos Andreakos, Giorgos Kouzounis and Giorgos Vakirtzis, with whom Touliatos studied at the studio of the pioneering Mitsos Makris and Almaliotis. Vakirtzis and Touliatos worked together from 1947 to 1975, producing the best decor on cinema facades. The Hellaffi group, with giant poster exhibitions from its rich archive, made the genre known in Greece and abroad, with the help of the Greek press. Now the collection has been bought by the Culture Ministry for the Hellenic Civilization Promotion Organization (OPEP) in Thessaloniki, proof that the once «ephemeral art» has received the seal of approval from the art establishment. For 2004, Gerasimos Touliatos, who was honored by Giorgos Skouras with a special exhibition of his works at the Attikon Cinema four years ago, has taken the «stars» from his collection and presents them as «details.» The calendar presents portraits of actors such as Alain Delon in «Le Choc» (1982), Anthony Quinn in «Zorba the Greek» (1964), Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway in «Barfly» (1987) and Donald Sutherland in «Secret Mission» (1991). In 2000, with the help of computers, making a giant poster is child’s play. The talent and enthusiasm of an artist or set designer is no longer necessary. But the expression on the face is not the same, nor are the giant posters as attractive, as alive, as those decorating the few Athens cinemas that still use them. That is why the calender, with the stars of «the best years of our lives,» is so personal for those who love the cinema. Every month has a face that nostalgically but powerfully takes us back in our own memories. A flashback in living colors! Happy New Year (at the movies)!

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