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Wine Bottles E-mail
Written by Michael LeBlanc   

From Eric's unpublished "Sketches for Article on Design"

Wine Labels, 1952 :: Collection of Margaret Bridgman Wine Labels, 1952 :: Collection of Margaret Bridgman
Comparing a 2000 year old wine bottle to a 1952 wine bottle:

Business: People buy wine to drink, not to look at the bottle.

Designer: Yes, but don’t you believe that this beautiful bottle would sell more wine over the counter than your ordinary bottle?

Business: I don’t think so. It hasn’t been done in the states yet. And anyway what in hell’s beautiful about it?

Designer: Yes, I see what you mean. Well, it was just an idea.

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CNE Poster (1937) E-mail
Written by Michael LeBlanc   
CNE Poster 1937, 56 x 34.5 cm :: Collection of the author
In my estimation, the finest example of Eric’s illustration work from the 1930's is his poster for the 1937 Canadian National Exhibition. This annual event, which in its heyday was the equal of any annual industrial/agricultural fair anywhere in the world, published posters designed by the best artists and illustrators in Canada at the time: J.E.H. MacDonald (1919), Franklin Carmichael (1920), Jules Laget (1931), Fred Finley (1936) and Grant MacDonald (1941) had produced posters for the CNE in this era.

Eric’s poster for 1937, in a year that was one of the most economically disastrous in the history of the country, is, as Robert Stacey describes it, “unfailingly optimistic, even when war or depression blackened the horizon.” In the top half of the page, Eric presents a giant, muscular robot-man, born to work (in those days, many Canadians aspired to have a job—any job), and manipulating large levers. Behind this figure, the background is split between the patriotic blue and red of the Union Jack (it is, after all, the year of the coronation of George VI). In the lower half of the page is depicted the royal carriage moving through the Princes’ Gates of the CNE.

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Self-Promotional Piece (1936) E-mail
Written by Michael LeBlanc   
Self-Promotional Piece :: Collection of Mrs. Margaret Bridgman

“Self-Promotional Piece” is a complex work, combining photographic collage, painting, decorative pattern, and typography. Some of its elements reside on the surface of the page: the pattern, the outlined inkwell, the angled highlight. However, there are also elements that provide depth: the photographed hand, the type that recedes backward using an adaptation of three-point perspective.

The phrase “CONSTRUCTIVE THOUGHT IN REPRODUCTION” is a direct reference to the Russian Constructivist style of the 1920’s. The Constructivists used the angled forms in an artistic/political effort to break traditional attitudes toward hierarchy and authority implicit in the grid structure that had been used by designers since Gutenberg.

In Eric’s case, he is demonstrating his affinity for the unusual and unconventional in the service of commercial enterprise. His use of angles and perspective in the creation of a visual irony of depth is a major undercurrent in much of his work.

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Nothing Uninteresting

The Work and Life of Eric Aldwinckle

By Michael B. LeBlanc

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When I… became a war artist, I had no interest in machines, but by being on the field and seeing these beautiful machines working I came to understand them and I was able for the first time in my life to depict machines with some kind of understanding.

-Eric Aldwinckle, interview with Joan Murray, 1979