While most of our artwork here at Pacifica is Hawaiian and Island centered, we also collect gems from around the world like Vintage Travel Posters. Before these now highly revered collectible pieces of art were considered ‘vintage‘ they were the visualization for the Golden Age of Travel. When railways stretched across America and Europe, swanky ocean liners brought elegance to international waters, and air travel was luxurious and exciting. Armed with these vibrant visual ephemera, travel agents and ticket salesmen reined in a new era of excitement about the adventures of travel, channeled through the language of design. And you can’t talk about this period without stumbling across the works of David Klein.
David Klein (February 23, 1918 – December 9, 2005) was an American artist, best known for his influential work in advertising. Although he produced illustrations for Broadway theatrical productions, Hollywood films, the United States Army, and numerous corporate clients, Klein is best remembered for the iconic travel images he created for Howard Hughes and Trans World Airlines (TWA) during the 1950s and 1960s.
By the mid-1950s, Klein had established a reputation as one of America’s preeminent commercial illustrators. However, his most lasting contribution to the art world came in the following decade as he applied his talent to the world of commercial travel. Between approximately 1955–1965, Klein designed numerous award-winning travel advertisement posters, many of which are now considered emblematic of the 1960s Jet Age. Klein produced the bulk of this work for Howard Hughes and Trans World Airlines (TWA), illustrating dozens of posters advertising travel throughout the United States and abroad.
Through his TWA work, Klein earned additional recognition, and, in 1957, New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) added Klein’s TWA Times Square poster to its permanent collection.
Revival and renewed interest
In the summer of 2006, internet travel agency Orbitz launched a six-poster advertising series featuring Klein’s original images. The Orbitz campaign, along with a resurgence of interest in 1960s commercial art, increased the popularity and resale value of Klein’s work.
In late 2008, Entertainment Weekly featured Klein’s 1964 TWA World’s Fair poster in an article discussing the popular AMC advertising drama, Mad Men.