The Coliseu of Porto in the Posters of Cruz Caldas. Fragments of an Imaginary City

The preliminary study presented here is part of a collection, analysis and dissemination project that Passeio (the Urban Art and Culture Platform of the Communication and Society Research Center/University of Minho; is developing, relating memory, visual culture (graphic design and outdoor advertising) and urban space. For the specific case of this article, we selected a sample of 39 graphic objects (mostly posters, but also including programs and illustrations) that the publicist António Cruz Caldas (1898-1975) designed for the Coliseu do Porto between 1941 and 1969. Based on this corpus, we propose to stimulate a discussion on the cultural dimension of advertising, reinterpret the memory value of the archive document, construct new representations of the imagined city inscribed in these documents and, finally, question the role of the poster today, in an era of hyperstimulation. The analysis of the selected sample is based on the classification suggested by Abraham Moles (1969/1987), more specifically, on the characteristics of “information”, “seduction”, “education”, “aesthetics” and “creation”. Comparing the initial objectives with the analysis carried out, we can conclude that the posters created by Cruz Caldas with an originally effective purpose (to advertise the cultural events of the Coliseu do Porto), simultaneously condense an aesthetic current (modernism), an individual praxis and a representation, at once real and imaginary, of the cultural life of the city, thus mirroring the cultural dimension of advertising. In addition, by bringing this set of documents into the present, we not only reveal the value of their formal aspects and content, but also transform them into tools for questioning current practices. By immersing us in the daily life of the city represented by Caldas, the advertising poster leads us to reconstruct and fictionalize the urban space. Finally, the convergence of various artistic talents (manual labor, mastery of drawing, the influence of illustration, geometric notions of movement and spatiality) is evident in these examples, which accentuates their status as a work of art, impelling us to reflect on the ephemerality of the poster today and conjecture what will be the record of its future memory, given the volatility of current supports. Access here.




Teresa Lima; Helena Pires


Vista - Revista de Cultura Visual