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

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.

More from CR

Did Will win it?

Turnout for the US Presidential Election was reportedly very high with lengthy queues at many polling stations. Perhaps Mr Will Ferrell had something to do with that

For women, use widget

Female experts are notoriously under-represented – in the media, on expert panels, at conferences or anywhere requiring informed comment.

Type specimens

Type specimens have been published since the invention of moveable type, with the earliest well-known example being Antwerp printer Christopher Plantin’s 1567 Index Sive Specimen Characterum. The purpose of such a document in the 16th century was the same then as it is now: to showcase a typeface or typefaces in the various alphabets, styles and sizes available. A specimen functions as a catalogue, a printed sales pitch, designed to say ‘this is what we’ve got and this is how it can be used’

Autumn window dressing

Brighton’s Red Design has collaborated with artist and designer Kyle Bean to create an impressive seasonal window display for the city’s Union Jewellery shop

Senior Creative Designer

Monddi Design Agency

Head of Digital Content

Red Sofa London