This poster blog below was originally published in April 2013. At the time, we had the fortune to receive a private consignment of a small collection of Bern Hill artworks for our vintage poster auction in San Francisco. Since then, the original owner found 8 additional posters, all of which will be offered in our forthcoming poster sale in November. Here at PosterConnection, we simply love Bern Hill’s artwork and therefore decided to re-issue the original blog – just with different photos. Yes, perhaps we are a little lazy with today’s blog, but when do you get the chance to view such exquisite modern travel poster art? We could not resist. Enjoy the images.
All of the Bern Hill works shown will be part of our 36th vintage poster auction on November 3, 2013. For more information, please visit posterconnection.com or view the catalog online via artfact.com.
Bern Hill (1911 – 1977) was a free-lance graphic designer and painter from Toronto who spent most of his career and life in Connecticut. His artwork is characterized by clean, defined designs and boldly colored landscape settings that are often portrayed through unusual and innovative perspectives – a perfect combination for poster designs.
While some of Hill’s biggest clients included General Motors, American Airlines, Reader’s Digest and Saturday Evening Post, the artist was perhaps best known for his modernist train illustrations that appeared on the covers of railroad magazines.
Between 1950 and 1956, Hill was hired by General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division to produce 65 paintings for a new advertising campaign. GM used many of these designs to produce a series of posters, adding to each the railway line and a marketing theme for the particular railroad. In his paintings, Hill succeeded in capturing the essence (dominant landmarks or landscapes) and purpose (freight vs. passenger trains) of the individual railroad line and route.
While Hill’s posters are arguably some of the most beautiful American rail “travel” designs from that time period, his work was not widely distributed and the GM advertising campaign was not very successful. Hill created beautiful, streamline poster designs that allow the observer to view and enjoy the sights or the landscape with the train service integrated into the image (rather than focusing on one overbearing locomotive). GM, it seems, would have preferred a dominant image of the actual train.