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.
Among the assets of the John Baumgarth Company were a Kodachrome photo and several transparencies used in the production of the first 1953 calendars featuring Marilyn Monroe. Included in the Messenger Art Collection are well-known images from the same photoshoot as "Golden Dreams," such as "Lure of Lace" and "Entrancing."
Between the pieces acquired by Messenger himself and the assets from the John Baumgarth Company, there are numerous artworks that were originally used in the production of promotional calendars. Look for pieces from such American artists as Tom Beecham, Warner Sallman and Walter Haskell Hinton.
The Art of the Industry exhibit opens today at The PPAI Expo, on the level 2 of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Distributors will have the opportunity to see the artworks now through January 6. Display times are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday; 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday; and 8 a.m. to noon on Friday.
Kyle A. Richardson is the editorial director of Promo Marketing. He joined the company in 2006 brings more than a decade of publishing, marketing and media experience to the magazine. If you see him, buy him a drink.