Gotta DANCE!

The Art of the Dance Movie Poster

From the Collection of Mike Kaplan

May 23 – September 30, 2012

Comprised of over 90 distinctive pieces from throughout the world, GOTTA DANCE! is an opportunity to focus on the movie poster as a unique, under-appreciated art form and in particular, the creative ways in which dance has been used as a dominant image in both musical and non-musical films.

Some of the most original interpretations of American films come from abroad, where for a longer period, painting and illustration prevailed. Examples from Europe, England, Australia and South America stand beside their American cousins, signifying each film’s finest poster regardless of country. Most were produced during "The Golden Age" of Movie poster design (1930-1950). This exhibition marks the first time that many of these images will be seen by an American audience.

Nothing encompasses California heritage better than the film industry. California—Hollywood in particular—was the home and birthplace of many of the film industry’s leading production studios: MGM, 20th Century Fox, Disney, RKO Radio Films and Republic Pictures being a few of the heavyweights.

While the motion picture is recognized as the most influential art form of the 20th century, the movie poster has seldom received the recognition it deserves. Partially due to the commercial needs that must be considered in their conception—text in the form of slogans, title treatment and credits—movie posters have been viewed by many as nothing more than a sidebar of popular culture. This exhibition is an opportunity to focus on the movie poster as a unique and underappreciated art form.

The history of the movie poster runs in fascinating parallel to the history of film, not by merely reflecting the evolution of a new medium, but by expanding its visibility and captivating new audiences. Design aesthetics and historic significance form the foundation of this dynamic exhibition.

The posters on view range from Singin’ In The Rain (1952) and Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) to Funny Face (1957) and The Red Shoes (1948). Also showcased is West Side Story (1962)—the only poster to highlight Oscar-winners Rita Moreno and George Chakiris. Additionally, Danny Kaye is represented as the neighboring Kid From Brooklyn (1946), depicted at the center of a colorful French lithograph, surrounded by a bevy of chorus girls inspired by Toulouse-Lautrec.

Signature pieces in the exhibition include: an original French-release poster for An American in Paris (1951), previously owned by Gene Kelly; a young, two dimensional James Stewart prominently dancing with three dimensional Eleanor Powell in Born to Dance (1936); an immaculate image of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in elegant evening attire for Carefree (1938); Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in caricaturist Al Hirschfeld’s design for the rare American 40x60 version of Strike Up the Band (1940); plus the only poster to spotlight the Nicholas Brothers executing a dazzling, acrobatic tap routine in The Great American Broadcast (1941).

From Clara Bow and Marilyn Monroe to James Cagney and Elvis Presley, scintillating graphic design highlights many of the screen’s most talented star dancers and performers. Additionally, GOTTA DANCE! presents vibrant posters featuring Gene Autry, Leslie Caron, Joan Crawford, Lena Horne, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, Frank Sinatra, Mickey & Minnie Mouse, and many others.

In his career as a producer, director and distributor, Mike Kaplan has collaborated with many important artists on various movie posters including: David Hockney (A Bigger Splash, 1973), Don Bachardy (Short Cuts, 1993), Allen Jones (Maitresse, 1975), John Van Hamersveld (Welcome to L.A, 1976) and Michael Vollbracht (Marlene, 1984). He frequently worked with British airbrush artist Philip Castle, beginning with Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971). More recently, Kaplan enlisted popular caricature artist Andre Carillho for his film of Never Apologize (2008), in which Malcolm McDowell portrays British film and documentary director Lindsay Anderson.

This exhibition is funded, in part, by grants from the Wells Fargo Foundation, the Ira M. Resnik Foundation, Inc., the LLWW Foundation, Dawson Design Los Angeles, Copyland Los Angeles, the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Department, the Fairfield County Foundation, the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Victorian/Calamigos Ranch, as well as generous corporate, foundation and private individual donations.