Advertising has been in existence for thousands of years, from the papyrus scrolls of Ancient Egypt to painted wall signs on the ruins of Pompeii – the late nineteenth and early twentieth century had fans. Such a seemingly inanimate object – a mere accessory, the humble paper fan was a simple yet effective marketing tool used to promote a whole host of activities such as travel, shopping, perfume, champagne and much more.
“Seduced! Fans and the Art of Advertising” currently being exhibited at The Fan Museum in London, presents the visual language of commercial art used for advertising on fans and charters the trends in fan design and promotion in the dawn of the consumer culture.
The Fan Museum, nestled away in a Georgian Greenwich townhouse, has such a regal and other worldly charm to it. The exhibition itself is small and is spread over two rooms; these rooms are however packed with glass cabinets of these historical fans. From elegant and beautiful to edgy and quirky, the fans on display here truly reflect the culture and spirit of their respective times
I couldn’t help but wonder as I gazed upon fan after fan, what their individual stories were? Was the one that depicted a beautiful girl in a red dress and holding a champagne glass perhaps once owned by a 1920s socialite and was by her side as she danced the Charleston until midnight in Paris? I always find that objects such as these have romanticism about them and a hidden story that’s aching to be teased out.
The Deco Decadent fans of the twenties capture the energy of the time, the unmistakeable flapper dresses, cocktails and the glamour of the roaring twenties is in printed format – advertising for champagne is suitably apt for fans of this time. My favourites of the exhibition – aside from the stunning flapper dress on display, were the Christian Dior fan and the Ayla champagne fan complete with cut-out eye holes for a masked ball effect.
It’s worth paying a visit to this unique and alternative exhibition that is a charming way to spend an afternoon.
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