Scenes from the 1950s – the art of triple retro


Graphics by Hans Riebesehl from a beautifully designed tour guide to Hamburg, Germany which dates from around 1956. It’s fascinating to see an original that could be equally at home today, or in the mid-eighties, when this kind of font was hand-in-glove with the rebirth of black and white photography.

Does that mean we’re living in a triple retro age? The fifties are everywhere again, just as they were in the eighties.

Maybe James Dean would have been less troubled in 1955 if he’d known his immortality was assured, safe in the knowledge that every thirty years the vampire of cool would pick him up on its radar.

More images from Hamburg 1956…

Perfected poise: all eyes on the roulette wheel…

…from a time when the future was sunlit open spaces, sleek lines and a widescreen perspective: the motorway to modern.

The poster map that opens out is clever and quirky – a giant magnifying glass homes in on Hamburg, while the surrounds are peppered with ways to see the sights in the journey to a bright new world.


4 thoughts on “Scenes from the 1950s – the art of triple retro

  1. What a find! What goes around comes around! I keep feeling things are going round in circles. I find myself returning lately to things I liked in my early 20’s. I think it is not just nostalgia but a kind of desire for change and yet not change. hmm….

    • Me too… desire for ‘change not change’ is really interesting: I’ll go away and think on that one! I’m sort of getting somewhere in working out what’s nostalgia and what’s something more lasting and re-inventive. Some posts I’ve done feel like they belong firmly to nostalgia – the Nicola Bayley badgers card for example, or the Mottisfont Abbey one, but I think that’s because they are fixed in time through the era of family life they evoke. Objectively, though, they’re no different from the Hamburg guide (though it came from my parents visit in the 50s, but before my time!). It reminds me of Bookishnature’s comment about ‘little time portals’ – some things take us back, but others take us forward (the circles?). There’s another post in here!

    • Perfect – it’s the ‘recycle and readjust’ that’s important – that suggests some kind of learning as we go along, moving forward, rather than nostalgia as a retreat or protection from change. Thanks!

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