Mort Künstler adds vigour to man vodka

American artist Mort Künstler brings his painterly, strong-jawed heroes to a new campaign for Maximus Vodka from Wieden + Kennedy, London

American artist Mort Künstler brings his painterly, strong-jawed heroes to a new campaign for Maximus Vodka from Wieden + Kennedy, London…

Now in his early 80s, Künstler is well known for his oil paintings of famous scenes from American history, notably the Civil War, and his illustrations for paperbacks and men’s ‘adventure’ magazines. He has also made posters for films such as Beyond the Poseidon Adventure and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.

We’ve seen a fair bit of classic illustration being used in advertising campaigns in recent years – think Mother’s work with artist Robert McGinnis for Stella Artois. In each case there seems to be a desire to tap into the aesthetic and attitudes of a particular time, but also to get back to the source of the original art, hence agencies hiring artists who are working well into retirement (McGinnis is now in his mid-80s).

Rise and Conquer is Wieden’s first campaign for Brown-Forman’s Maximus Vodka which launches in the brand’s home market of Poland and rolls out across Europe later in the year. The new posters feature a bespoke typeface, Maximus, and a range of scenarios that would test the mettle of many of a modern man – swimming with massive sharks, or shouldering through some rapids, for example.

In other iterations, close-ups of Künstler’s men’s men are used. Here, grit and determination abound, with one evocative set-up showing a chap clenching some rope in his fist (shown top). What will happen next? Who knows. But it will surely involve some sweating and grunting.

More of Künstler’s art is at mortkunstler.com.

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, London. Creative directors: Robert Doubal and Laurence Thomson. Creative Team: Max Batten and Ben Shaffery. Creative: Nils Petter. Designer: Michael Bow. Illustrations: Mort Künstler/Tim Gabor. Retouching: Stanley’s Post. Photographer: Richard Maxted. Retouching: Monkey London.

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