Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Kiss

When I teach the survey of Western Art and get to the chapter on the Vienna Secession, I ask students about the popularity of Gustav Klimt's The Kiss (left) inside their dorm rooms. Half of the time, students look at me like I'm from a different planet making me question my own pop-culture vintage. Sure, The Kiss was popular in the 1980s when I was in college, but perhaps things have changed over the last 20-some years. For all I know rappers have displaced the entire history of art. I am very grateful to Antiquated Vagaries for documenting the persistence of certain visual notions. During the last few weeks, Katie has been blogging on her experiences selling posters throughout American colleges. The last posting from Ithaca confirms some of our best (and worse) suspicions. It's a must for all professors of Art History, read here.

The college poster sale is one of the most interesting collegiate events, a bazaar marking the beginning of the school year, a chance to personalize space, a ritual of creating new identities. Every chance I get, I visit my college's sale simply to browse and eaves-drop. While at Clemson, I even tried to find posters that I would still place on my college space (in my office rather than my dorm). I even bought a set that I would alternate on my office door. Andy Warhol prints was at the top of the list. With the beginning of Fall 2009, I have chanced on poster sales at three different locations, the University of Pennsylvania, Franklin and Marshall College and Wesleyan University. Each has been held at a different location, usually near the bookstore. Having never met Katie, I always try to spot the sales personnel hoping to meet Katie, whom I only know as a blogger. I am so thankful that college students still need visual images for their walls even if those images are problematic.

I should also confess that my sister's college poster still hangs in our house. It's a Mediterranean scene by Matisse, a window of escape. The poster is now a quarter century old and I'm simply afraid to throw it away. It is not an image that has survived with age. I do hope there is a PhD Art Historian out there studying the college poster even if only analyzing the categories of Posters.com.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States