Movie Poster of the Week has just returned from sunny Spain, so I thought it was high time I highlighted the work of the great Spanish cartelista, Macario Gómez Quibus, better known by his distinctive signature “Mac.”
Now 90 years old, the incredibly prolific artist—over the years he has reportedly produced some 4,000 pieces of movie art—worked in a variety of styles. He often repainted American posters almost verbatim, albeit in his own more vivacious brushstrokes, but the posters that initially caught my eye were his more sui generis works. His gothic rendering of Rebecca is in stark contrast to most American and international posters for the film that feature Olivier and Fontaine pensively cheek-to-cheek. And his poster for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, again notably centered on a silhouette, is quite unlike any other design for the film. He could be both a painterly realist and a graphic stylist, often within the same poster (see his Ashes and Diamonds). And, perhaps most distinctive of all was his bold and energetic use of color.
Mac was born in 1926 in Reus in Catalonia, the birthplace of another colorful stylist, Antoni Gaudí. A keen artist from childhood (his teachers remembered him drawing with a stick in the dirt instead of playing football) he studied at the School of Fine Arts in Reus, but his studies were cut short by the Civil War. At the age of 20, a visit to Barcelona’s Museum of Modern Art introduced him to the work of the 19th century Catalan painter Marià Fortuny and he would spend days examining Fortuny’s canvases (the influence of Fortuny’s vigorous style can definitely be seen in Mac’s poster work). He resumed his studies at the Escola de Belles Arts in Barcelona and started to work for an advertising company specializing in cinema. In 1952 he was hired by the famous design studio Clavé and Martí Picó (MCP) where he made numerous posters under their collective signature, including a poster for Ivanhoe, which caught the attention of a senior executive at MGM. In 1955, working for the distributor Tandem Films, he began to sign his works with the name “Mac.” His biggest break came in 1956 when he was hired by Paramount to produce the 3-sheet poster for The Ten Commandments, which led to a friendship with Charlton Heston.
Mac worked tirelessly during the 60s and 70s as an independent artist. He received many offers to work in the United States and Paris, but chose to stay with his family in Barcelona, the source, he has said, of his creative inspiration, where he still lives today.
You can see a short film about Mac (in Spanish and unsubtitled I’m afraid, but still fascinating) here. And I am indebted to the fan site Universo Mac for the biographical information above.
Here are twenty of my favorite Mac designs.
Posters courtesy of CineMaterial, Heritage Auctions and Posteritati.