David Klein created the art for this TWA advertisement. Klein used art to influence the world of advertising. After serving in the Army during World War II, Klein moved to New York City and began working as a commercial illustrator. Klein was seen as the favorite of the Broadway world: during the late 1940s and early 1950s, many of the most popular Broadway productions featured his work on their window cards and posters. By the mid-1950s, Klein established himself as one of America’s leading commercial illustrators. The next decade, however, would prove to be his most illustrious: between 1955 and 1965, Klein designed numerous award-winning travel advertisements, most of it for Howard Hughes and Trans World Airlines. One of these advertisements, depicting New York City’s Times Square, is now part of the collection at the Museum of Modern Art. Klein continued working commercially almost until the end of his life, but in his seventies returned to his artistic roots. He focused on watercolor depictions of his travels in the United States and Europe, painting both rural landscapes as well as architectural studies. These paintings also earned him many awards. Klein passed away in New York in 2005, but his work lives on in bright abstraction, defining a golden era in commercial art.
Trans World Airlines was a major American airline from 1930 until 2001. In 1930, the two companies—Transcontinental Air Transport and Western Air Express—merged to become Transcontinental & Western Air, operating a route from New York City to Los Angeles with stops in St. Louis, Kansas City, and more. With American, United, and Eastern, Transcontinental & Western Air was one of the “Big Four” domestic airlines of the United States in 1930. The airline prospered during World War II, flying 40 million miles for the Army. Howard Hughes acquired control of the company in 1939 and led its postwar expansion to include routes to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. In 1950, the airline officially changed its name to Trans World Airlines. At its peak, TWA was well-regarded by the Hollywood set and came to be known as “Airline to the Stars”. It was during this time that these striking posters were created, to entice the hardworking American people into travel. Unfortunately, with the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, TWA began its slow decline—struggling with debt, restructuring, and terrible accidents—until its final bankruptcy filing in 2001.
Why We Love It
Graphic, gold-washed, vibrant, and vivacious, this vintage airline ad sums up its destination with classic allusions to some of the most commonly recognizable colors, textures and locales. It's a referential works of fantasy, stirring a desire to take to the skies—or hunker down in a retro day dream. This top-flight (heh) poster design was created for Trans World Airlines in the 1950s, aka the Golden Age of air travel. Airline advertisements at the time touted an in-flight journey that was just as luxurious as a vacation itself. Fly TWA: New York is a conduit to a serious nostalgia moment, a flashback to when people used to get dressed up to fly, to extensive legroom and swirling scotches ... Read more on the blog!
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