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By Olivia Kiers / January 30, 12:00 AM
Boston Accent: Bon Voyage

Jim Lapides, owner of International Poster Gallery, embarks on a new adventure with the opening of his South End headquarters


“In 1990 I walked into a gallery and discovered the world of original vintage posters,” recalls Jim Lapides, owner of Boston’s International Poster Gallery. With a degree in Italian Renaissance art, Lapides became enamored of Italian posters, amassing a collection that grew so quickly, he decided to open a gallery on Newbury Street with his favorite dealer in 1994. Over the intervening 22 years, the gallery continued to expand in new directions. “The word ‘international’ in our name means something,” Lapides explains. “We have great Swiss, Italian, Dutch, Russian and American collections. We are strong in travel and transportation, war and propaganda, food and beverage, music and the arts and fashion, [with] roughly 10,000 posters…and some things like beautiful luggage labels.”   

Yet the story does not end here. This February, the International Poster Gallery is saying a fond farewell to Newbury Street, and hello to the up-and-coming SoWa arts district (so called for being south of Washington Street) in Boston’s South End. Lapides is excited. “When you are an art dealer, you constantly have to reinvent yourself.…SoWa will be a continuation of that adventure [in] a new neighborhood, [with] a new, modern gallery that will have a totally different feel. Having a strong arts community around us will be invigorating. And free, convenient parking for our clients may sound prosaic, but it is a big plus.” 

What won’t change is Lapides’ dedication to building the collection and raising awareness of under-appreciated posters. “We have always thrived by plowing new ground in our field,” says Lapides, “and that will continue. We have done pioneering shows and built world-class collections in many areas.…I expect that SoWa will be the perfect place to show more late 20th-century poster design.” As always, the gallery remains welcoming to all, whether you are an avid collector eager for rare finds or a window-shopper casually browsing those curious, bold and beautiful images from the past that create a sense of nostalgia in so many. 

For those who want to recreate this magic in their own home, Lapides offers sage advice: “The first rule is buy what you love. Posters are so wide-ranging; look until you find a subject, style or artist that really speaks to you.” 

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