My nominee for best motorcycle poster is Speedbound. Austrian artist Paul Gasenhemier combined three American icons in a single dreamlike poster. James Dean is all business showing good form with two fingers over the front brake lever as he whisks an adoring Marilyn Monroe along on his Harley. To me it best typifies the American Motorcycle Dream. But, you have to suspend disbelief.
Most people are aware that James Dean, during his short life 1931-1955, never actually knew Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn died in 1962 at the relatively young age of 36. Marilyn was only five years older than Dean was, so they were contemporaries. It is unlikely, however, that they could ever have actually become an item. The reason being that it is widely believed that Dean was gay.
Don't even start to say anything about the lack of protective gear. Yes, Marilyn is wearing ridiculous high-heels and neither one has a helmet or gloves. But this art print is not for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. It is about the motorcycling fantasy and does it in great style.
The overall impression is one of absolute bliss on the part of Marilyn. That expression of warmth, affection and happiness, a happiness she may never have actually known in real life, is what makes this poster special.
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