Saturday, August 16, 2014

"Gilroy Was Good For Guinness" by David Hughes

"Gilroy Was Good For Guinness" by David Hughes (2013 Liberties Press Ireland, hardcover, 9"x 9", 256 pages)

More a biography and art portfolio than a beer book, per se, this fine text covers the 1930-60s output of commercial and fine artist John Gilroy, who worked extensively with building the international Guinness brand in the 20th century. Including hundreds of paintings, drawings, unused proofs, and mock-up illustrations (as well as plenty of finished works), Gilroy's iconic and idiosyncratic artworks certainly helped a great deal to build the Guinness brand that continues to define the classic Irish stout, even today.

Hughes examines the work, alongside Gilroy's own life both personally and professionally in these years. That said, this is first and foremost an art book, and offers the most extensive and exhaustive collection of Gilroy art to be assembled anywhere. There are his crazy collection of animal-centered art to promote Guinness, as well as the popular phrases "My Goodness My Guinness" and "Guinness For Strength", to promote the multitude of health benefits (!!?) of the roasty dark brew. As fascinating are the many Guinness ads Gilroy did for other countries, notably Germany (during the world wars, complete with Nazi iconography), as well as Russia, Greece, and the United States, where the familiar toucan flies high above the Golden Gate in San Francisco. 

"Gilroy Was Good For Guinness" is a wonderful and engrossing collection of John Gilroy's fantastic commercial works. Any serious and fan of historical beer memorabilia and Guinness's rich history would do well to seek this magnificent tome out.

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