PIECING TOGETHER JACQUES KAPRALIK

Using an assortment of materials including satin roses, yarn, buttons, fabric, paper, balsa wood and an array of small trinkets, Jacques Kapralik fashioned an immediately identifiable graphic style.

A commercial artist whose career began in Romania creating caricatures of European celebrities and events, Kapralik immigrated to the US in 1936 where he began rendering editorial caricatures focusing on movie personalities. This led to his best known and loved work, the trade ads he created for the movie studios, MGM especially.  The studio’s lavish house organ, Lion’s Roar, reproduced his work as trade ads that appeared in other publications as well. 

Kapralik’s print work frequently made use of two pages, the first with a cutout focused on the movie’s stars and the second page, a full spread allowing Kapralik the freedom and means to create incredibly charming collages which he executed to great effect. Combining his skills as a caricaturist with the practice of assemblage, his work captures the spirit of a movie and especially its stars as in this example from The Clock (1945). 

His playful style can also been seen in the opening titles of films including The Three Musketeers (1939), Her Cardboard Lover (1942), Presenting Lily Mars (1943) and Pat and Mike (1952). Kapralik worked steadily throughout his career. Kapralik’s illustrations were rarely used for reproduction as one-sheet posters, which is odd given his success in print and bold graphic style.

The library holds five examples in its collection, and it is believed that these are the only poster commissions he received. For Silk Stockings, Kapralik perfectly conveys the grace of Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse who appear to be caught in the moment between steps and ready to dance off the page.  

Kapralik’s stature was such that he was permitted to sign his work, a gesture of true ownership allowed for very few illustrators. He used a couple of signatures to identify his work including a small circle K brand, but even without his markers, Kapralik’s singular style is all the signature that is necessary.

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