loved the cinema. Even though he is 29-years-old, Wesley Douglas felt like a
10-year-old when he would walk through a lobby seeing posters for upcoming
releases, going through the door, and seeing the big screen. He’d get there
early to snag his favorite seat, hugging his family size popcorn. He’d allow
himself a few slurps of pop during the trailers. But other than that, he just
waited for movies to start and he appreciated everything about the art form.
Movie posters are meant to grab your attention in seconds while still providing
a sense of plot within a single image. It’s the world, stars, and story on a
single image of art and it’s Lights, Paper, Action over at the West Palm Beach
Norton Museum of Art.
Running until October 19, ‘Coming Soon’ is the new exhibit at the Norton Museum
of Art that’s showing museum-goers some reel art. Titled ‘Coming Soon: Film
Posters from Dwight M. Cleveland’, the exhibition features 215 movie posters
from the U.S. and other countries from the early 1900s to the 1980s. The movie
posters come from the 3,000 plus collection of Dwight Cleveland by Matthew Bird
of the Rhode Island School of Design and Norton Assistant Curator J. Rachel
Gustafson. It’s the largest museum exhibit of classic movie posters
representing comedies, Westerns, musicals, dramas, science-fiction, and
classics such as, ‘Casablanca’, ‘Attack of the 50 Foot Woman’, and ‘Singin’ in
the Rain’. The exhibit not only shows one collector’s passion, but a
walkthrough of the history of movie posters, pop culture, and cinema history.
When Matt Marber isn’t watching his favorite movie ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ or
what he calls, “Dramas that make you cry,” Marber believes this exhibit can
inform the younger generation.
“I think younger generations might not appreciate movie posters when compared
to the older generation because the older generation had fewer forms of media
to rely on,” said Marber. “Back then you had to capture someone’s interest with
effective use of colors and all that and I think the younger generation will
learn stuff like that here.”
A satisfaction, as if having completed a deeply, personally needed action;
expressed by the slightest curve at the mouth’s corner and youthful confidence
worn in a slight raise of the eyebrow above a quizzical, joyful eye.
Marber shimmied his way across the glossy tile. Stopping occasionally to look
at such movie posters of ‘Shanghai Express’ (1932), ‘King Kong’ (1933), and
‘Sunset Boulevard’ (1950), Marber stares in awe. As he walks, his blood seems
to wake up his brain when he saw his favorite movie poster of the day.
“Dustin Hoffman, Midnight Cowboy,” said Marber. “I love movies and it’s a
longer way to be invested in a story rather than something shorter like a TV
Visiting West Palm with his family from Trinidad is Wesley Douglas. When
29-year-old Douglas isn’t catching up on his favorite action movies starring
Jason Statham, Douglas appreciates how movies can take us out of our everyday
“Movies offer an unrealistic version of life, stories and stuff that are
unimaginable,” said Douglas.
Douglas’ favorite poster that day was 007 James Bond. “Growing up everyone
wanted to be a superspy and a version of him,” said Douglas.
Douglas believes that movie posters have to immediately set up a tone in which
an audience can engage with.
“It shows the sense of the art and movie posters give you an image of the tone
you’ll see,” said Douglas.
Douglas mentioned if he were to design his own movie poster, it would be for an
action flick featuring Denzel Washington because Washington is phenomenal.
The way she lifts her lips upward when eying these films and the way her
dimples crinkle. She smiles softly while looking at each film poster
“I really enjoy the poster exhibit and I love the history behind it and how it
portrays the time period,” said Abby Hamm.
Hamm, whose favorite movie is ‘You’ve Got Mail’ (1998), is a fan of the foreign
“I enjoy the movie posters from other countries because I enjoy seeing how they
depicted the same movie in a different light,” said Hamm.
Foreign film posters of American movies are some of the most unique according to
exhibition notes, many of these are artist, such as the ones in Poland, didn’t
even see the movies they were assigned. This provided the artist with a clean
creative slate to have free range when designing these posters. That may
explain why some of the posters, such as the Polish poster for ‘Dirty Dancing’
look more like a horror flick rather than a drama.
Hamm said her favorite poster from the exhibit is ‘Pinocchio’ (1940) and Hamm
believes these posters still speak for an audience today.
With the movie posters in the exhibit we even see how the times haven’t
changed,” said Hamm. “We talk about how bad things are in our society now and
those same things are depicted in and through the movie art.”
Hamm also mentioned how nowadays they depict celebrities more on posters rather
than the actual art, tone, and plot. But she is still a fan of films today and
the last movie and movie poster she saw and enjoyed was ‘Spider-Man: Far From
Hamm ended by saying, “You cannot look at these movie posters and deny that
they aren’t real art.”
‘Coming Soon: Posters From the Dwight M. Cleveland Collection’ runs through
October 29 at the Norton Museum of Art, located at 1450 S. Olive Ave., West
Palm Beach. Admission costs $15-$18 and is free on Fridays and Saturdays. You
may call (561)832-5196 or visit norton.org for more information.
Pictures By Nile Fortner