Passion, Art & the Movies
Robert Greenblatt’s Vintage Movie Poster Collection
Some people buy a house and fill it with art. Some people have art and build a house around it. And some people collect art, buy a house and find the synergy between the two. Such is the case with the residence of Robert Greenblatt, the Chairman of NBC Entertainment.
Greenblatt’s impressive resume includes a Golden Globe as television producer for Six Feet Under and Tonys as producer for Dear Evan Hansen and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder. Prior to taking the reins at NBC in 2011, he was President of Showtime Networks for seven years and is one of the founding programmers of the Fox network. He has also been involved in a range of hit shows including 90210, Ally McBeal, The X-Files, Dexter, Nurse Jackie, Shameless, The Blacklist and, most recently, This Is Us.
It should be no surprise, then, that Greenblatt has a passion for art that embraces the entertainment industry—specifically movie posters.
Movie posters began appearing in the 1890s, and many attribute the first example to French lithographer Jules Chéret. As the years went by and movies became more popular, the posters began to increase in importance. No longer tombstone advertisements, they began depicting actual stars and scenes, and some became more iconic than the movies themselves! Who cannot visualize the poster for Attack of the 50 Foot Woman? And does the poster for A Clockwork Orange not send chills down your spine?
“I’ve been collecting movie posters for 30 years, “says Greenblatt. “I’ve bought some at auction and many others online through galleries in France, London, and even Sitges in Spain. These are world-class dealers who have beautiful pieces that arrive in pristine condition. Many in my collection date from before 1960, and the quality of the printing is what makes them collectible. Some are stone lithographs on very high-quality paper. And many of them have been museum-mounted on linen to stop the degrading of the paper.
“Some are hand–tinted,” Greenblatt continues, referring to examples in his collection from the 1940s. “That was just the sophisticated nature of printing back then, which helped preserve the vibrancy of the color. Some have faded or suffered some decay, and these have been restored professionally and even repainted, but most of my posters are in their original state.” He adds that as color film came in to being, the technique of hand-tinting began to die away.
“There are 25 vintage movie posters in the house, and they’re in every room,“ Greenblatt points out, adding that they range in size. “Traditional one-sheet posters are 27 by 41 inches. Examples of this size include my Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Vertigo posters. Three-sheet posters are 41 by 91 inches, and a good example of this size is the one for A Star Is Born. The largest posters, 81 by 81 inches, are made up of six sheets. A Place in the Sun is a good example of that size. But several posters are of American movies released in foreign countries, and they can vary widely.“
The Grace Home Furnishings’ design team of Michael Ostrow and Roger Stoker had the challenge of respecting the history of Greenblatt’s posters as well as his lifestyle. Built in 2009, his home is located in the Little Tuscany area of Palm Springs, a hillside enclave of Palm Springs that enjoys views of the Santa Rosa Mountains and boasts an impressive pedigree of A-list residents – the Gabors, Ava Gardner, Patty Hearst, and so on. Famed architects Richard Neutra, Albert Frey and Craig Ellwood left their mark on the area, while Greenblatt’s own residence is a mix of Spanish and Midcentury Modern design.
“Bob had a very good vision of what he wanted,” Ostrow recalls. “I sometimes pointed him in a direction I thought might be more practical or balance the feel of the room, but overall we saw eye to eye. I knew he wanted his collection of movie posters to stand out, and we always kept that in mind.
“Art tends to be very personal,” the designer continues. “I can direct clients toward what I think will work for them but ultimately they need to decide. They are the ones who live with it. Generally I get a feel for the house and the décor. Next I discuss with the client what he sees filling the walls. It is always great when a client comes to me with a collection, because I can then design in ways to show it off.”
“There were no design issues incorporating the posters, as they complement any kind of décor,” Greenblatt explains. “In some cases, the colors of the posters worked perfectly with the rugs and furniture. An example of this can be seen with the Some Like it Hot and Anna Christie posters. Both are in the living room and both incorporate the same color of blue as the chairs and wall color, which was just a nice coincidence.”
In Robert Greenblatt’s world, art, home and talent work together well even when the camera is off.