Art of the Industry Showcases Long-lost Promotional Artwork at The PPAI Expo in Las Vegas
Rare works of art, many dating before 1900, will be displayed for the first time at the Art of the Industry exhibit being held at The PPAI Expo in Las Vegas this week. Presented by PPAI and Silver State Fine Art LLC, the show features pieces used for promotional products, including pictures from Marilyn Monroe's "Golden Dreams" photo shoot, made famous in the pages of Playboy.
The Messenger Art Collection was begun in 1913 by Frank Messenger, a collector and evangelist who used artworks from his collection on promotional calendars. With a focus on religious pieces, Messenger used the calendars as a promotional way to spread the artwork, and vice versa. Over the years, the collection changed hands several times, with more pieces in varying genres being added. Now consisting of more than 4,000 works, the Messenger Art Collection contains a strong, representative selection of wildlife illustrations, landscape paintings, pinup art, photographs and prints.
"The massive size of the collection is mind-boggling, and I am just now getting a true picture of the inventory," said Albert Babbitt, a Las Vegas businessman and founder of Silver State Fine Art LLC. Babbitt acquired the Messenger Collection in July 2010. "I am finding some really wonderful treasures."
Babbitt purchased the collection from a U.S. holding company, which acquired it from the assets of another company in 2009. The collection has changed hands several times prior to that, with one of the major moves coming in 1988. That year saw the acquisition of the Champion Advertising Calendar Division of Atwater Group Inc., also known as the Champion Line and the John Baumgarth Company. It was the John Baumgarth Company that paid for the photoshoot of the then-unknown Marilyn Monroe in1949, which resulted in the "Golden Dreams" image later used as the centerfold in the first issue of Playboy.