Had it not been for COVID-19, the year 2020 might have been remembered as the 100th birthday of the visionary cinematic artist Federico Fellini (1920–1993). He personified the visual storyteller; the transformer of dreams into fantastical realities. I thank Cedomir Kostovic and Iwona Rypesc-Kostovic for organizing this centenary festival of interpretive "Posters for Fellini."
I know, you are thinking: Another outpouring of posters, at a time when the world and its inhabitants lives are in the balance? Yes! But as Kostovic insists, this is a welcome one. Designers in every corner of the globe are trying to caution and admonish but why not also to enliven and enlighten, to entertain and excite? This visual collection takes the heavy weight of Don’t You Dare and Never Again messages off our increasingly beleaguered backs and momentarily replaces them with the memory of one man of extraordinary talent — embodied with wit, absurdity and humanity.
When I became aware of Fellini’s work during my late teens, I was a neophyte book-a-zine designer for Evergreen Review. We were publishing a story on his 1970 film The Clowns. It was not, I later learned, his best (and I never could tolerate circus clowns anyway), but it was an experience. Every Fellini project was an experience—from his heart-rending dramas to his farcical autobiographies to his neo-realist commentaries. My favorite is Amarcord, a self-portrait of sorts Fellini's youth, living in the ancient sea city of Rimini during 1930s Fascist Italy, filled with unforgettably surreal and hyper-real beautiful and bizarre characters many with marvelously sculpted faces. Juliet of the Spirits rates high too, as do La Strada, 8 1/2, Roma and yes, even Satyricon, among his more debauched satiric-erotics.
Fellini was an illustrator and cartoonist. Every frame of his films was storyboarded. Do illustrators make the best filmmakers? Maybe. Just maybe they do. Fellini claims that honor. In any case, although I cannot say for certain, I’m pretty sure Fellini would be happy on his 100th birthday to see so many illustrators and designers paying tribute to him in this way.