Film

Best of 2016: The Golden Age of Hand-Painted Film Posters from Ghana

December 19, 2016

Originally published on Feburary 4th, 2016

It's not secret that we have a special kind of love for outsider and bootleg art here at Juxtapoz. The Atlantic recently published a fun article about the Ghana's bootleg movie posters and how African art scholar and West L.A. gallery owner Ernie Wolfe introduced and cataloged over 250 of these examples. We of course went in search of as many as we could find on the Internet and placed them here for your enjoyment.

 via The Atlantic:

When Frank Armah began painting posters for Ghanaian movie theaters in the mid-1980s, he was given a clear mandate: Sell as many tickets as possible. If the movie was gory, the poster should be gorier (skulls, blood, skulls dripping blood). If it was sexy, make the poster sexier (breasts, lots of them, ideally at least watermelon-sized). And when in doubt, throw in a fish. Or don’t you rememberthe human-sized red fish lunging for James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me?

“The goal was to get people excited, curious, to make them want to see more,” he says. And if the movie they saw ended up surprisingly light on man-eating fish and giant breasts? So be it. “Often we hadn’t even seen the movies, so these posters were based on our imaginations,” he says. “Sometimes the poster ended up speaking louder than the movie.”

In fact, many of the posters painted by Armah and other Ghanaian artists in the 1980s and ’90s have gone on to achieve a fame almost entirely detached from the films they depicted. Today, they’re collectors’ items, hanging in art galleries in the U.S. and Europe and frequently retailing for upwards of $2,000 a pop. And the most successful of the artists—who once churned out dozens of images a year on razor-thin margins for local cinemas—now make their wares on demand for their cult following of international fans.