John Van Hamersveld is an American graphic designer. He designed the Endless Summer movie poster for a mere 150$ back in 1964 (according to an article by The Orange County Register). The poster has since become iconic and is selling for much more (the eBay link above is for an original print selling at 2,195$). Below are a few excerpts from various source about the history and cultural significance of this particular poster.
The surf movie genre, and the surf movie poster, arguably peaked in 1965 with Bruce Brown’s The Endless Summer. Filmed in 1963, and picked up by Columbia Pictures (who transferred it to 35mm) three years later, Brown’s globe-trotting documentary about the search for the perfect wave grossed $30 million and caused Time magazine to dub Brown “the Bergman of the boards.” Surf Movie Tonite author Matt Warshaw writes that “the John Van Hammersveld-designed Endless Summer movie poster —featuring Brown, [Mike] Hynson, and [Robert] August standing on the beach in high-contrast silhouette against a blazing background of Day-Glo orange, magenta, and yellow—is the most recognizable piece of Pop Art this side of Warhol.” The poster owes a lot to the graphic simplicity of those early handbills (…) (MUBI: “Movie Poster of the Week: The Endless Summer” by Adrian Curry, August 7, 2009)
“Gidget,” “Beach Blanket Bingo” and the Beach Boys popularized surfing, but they were scorned by purists. For the surfers, the iconic image was a pop-art silkscreened poster by John Van Hamersveld, of a surfer facing a bright sunset. The poster, a promotion for the Bruce Brown film The Endless Summer, which was a hit with surfers and landlubbers, became an enduring image. (The New York Times: “Catching a Cultural Wave (Just Don’t Try to Define It)” by Chris Dixon, July 28, 2002)
From an article about the exhibition “Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires and Riots: California and Graphic Design” curated by Louise Sandhaus and held at Barnsdall Park’s Municipal Art Gallery (California) in the summer of 2008:
The images illustrate how West Coast designers figuratively shook up the New York-centric graphics establishment. For example, “Earthquakes” essayist Lorraine Wild writes that 35 years ago, the color orange was simply “not used by serious designers on the East Coast.” John Van Hamersveld blithely ignored that bias with his The Endless Summer movie poster (1964), which deployed hyper-saturated blasts of orange and yellow to evoke sunny SoCal surf culture. (Los Angeles Times: “Louise Sandhaus digs into California graphic design history at L.A.’s Municipal Art Gallery” by Hugh Hart, June 22, 2008)
The Endless Summer directed by Bruce Brown and released to a wide audience in 1966 is a cult movie of his own (the was was first released to a limited audience in 1964). From the official press kit (PDF):
The year was 1963. Mike Hynson and Robert August were among the world’s best surfers in the 1960’s.
Bruce Brown was a surfing enthusiast with a few largely unseen films on the sport. Brown, August and Hynson took off from the crowded beaches of California to follow the summer around the world in search of “The Perfect Wave.” With a budget of $50,000 and 9 miles of 16 mm film, Bruce Brown wrote, directed, produced, filmed, and narrated the best surfing movie of all time. The movie started a surfing craze not only across the country but around the world.
First released in the summer of 1964, Brown takes us on an epic journey following two clean-cut, all American surfers from California on their quest to live THE ENDLESS SUMMER by traveling around the world for no other reason than to surf! Ah, being young and having nothing better to do in life than travel around the world exploring exotic places with your wax and surfboards in hand, bake in the sun, and hang ten.
For more information about Bruce Brown’s film visit its official website. The original trailer is embedded below, along with some stills from the opening shots of the film.
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