Tony Nourmand is a global authority on vintage movie posters. With over 20 years of experience in the medium, culminating in the creation of his own publishing house in 2010 – Reel Art Press – Tony is the force behind some of the most impressive movie poster collections around. His latest release French New Wave: A Revolution in Design delves into one of the most important movements in the history of film. Centred around the designers, the compendium, which is also edited by Tony, celebrates the distinctive flair embraced by poster artists in the latter half of the 20th century.
As French New Wave cinema changed the cinematic landscape with its rejection of traditional filmmaking conventions, the designers entrusted with selling these films to the public were equally revolutionary. Seminal designers such as Milton Glaser, Andre Francois and Rene Ferracci contributed to the medium and their creations can be seen in the new 304-page compendium. Featuring posters from a number of countries, French New Wave also pays tribute to some of the genre’s most well-known titles: Jean-Luc Godard’s films Breathless and Le Mepris, and François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451.
For Tony, the fascination with the film genre dates back to 1989 and a trip to Paris. He bought a small French poster for A Bout de Souffle for 50 francs. A year later, at the turn of the decade, he started dealing in vintage movie posters. He became a vintage movie poster consultant for Christie’s, a post he held for 12 years. Then, from the early 90s, he began his own collection of works, gathering posters from all over the world, adding another poster to his collection any time he went to a new place. In the publishing world, he found ample institutions to publish his discoveries, which quickly became bestsellers, allowing him to publish practically anything he wanted.
“However, then years ago in 2009,” Tony tells us, “just before we started Reel Art Press, I wanted to do a book on the French New Wave to celebrate its 50th anniversary. But none of the publishers that I was working for were interested.” By this point, Tony’s collection on the movement had grown to be the most comprehensive in existence. And in the years that followed, he decided to sell his enormous collection and set up his own publishing house, so by the time French New Wave cinema’s 60th anniversary came around, Tony could publish the book exactly how he wanted it, he emphasises, “without any restrictions or compromise”.
Though the poster designs are around 60 years old today, they look and feel as modern as ever. “It was a period of intense creativity and ingenuity which reflected the era,” says Tony. Visually explosive in its striking use of block colours, the posters highlight the seminal change in pop culture that came with French New Wave cinema. The haphazardly collaged visual elements hint to the experimental editing of the films, and all in all, the designs possess a freedom of expression, leading the way in contemporary graphic design of the day.
For Tony, these are qualities imbued in one particular design that is a highlight of his collection. It’s a small French poster designed by Christian Broutin for Robert Bresson’s 1959 film, Pickpocket. “I first saw this image in a magazine over 30 years ago and it was a poster that I was actively looking for for many years,” says Tony. “None of the French dealers had ever seen it or knew what I was talking about until I found a small number of them in Paris and realised that this design was not used for the main campaign. It was only printed on a small size in small quantities for special screenings. It is the only French New Wave poster that I have hanging in my house.”
GalleryFrench New Wave: A Revolution in Design
French New Wave: A Revolution in Design
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Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.