1907 A nude woman becomes the rapturous icon of the technological and sexual revolutions in a diabolic flaming red cabriolet built by Bil-aktie-Bol, Car Company, Inc. Bil-Bol is a visionary image that heralds the coming age of the automobile. By depicting a nude woman in a red cabriolet––one who appears to have been rapturously abducted––dashing through a night sky illuminated by stars, the design also looks forward to the automobile becoming a quintessential icon of the technological and sexual revolution in the global post-World War II community. Significantly, it would seem that already in 1907, Gallen-Kallela realized the commercial potential of fast cars and attractive women. The poster utilizes feminine beauty as a decoy to attract the male buyers eye. The poster is also one of the first commercial promotions in which the Dollar-grin fender of a fast car is exposed to the public. Gallen-Kallela received the commission for the poster directly from the owner of the Bill-aktie-Bolaget (translating directly as Car Company Inc.), Mr. Yrjo Weilin. Mr. Weilin took the designer for a wild ride through the streets of Helsinki in a Bil-Bol, scaring the hell out of pedestrians and horses alike. His drive in the red devils machine clearly served as an inspiration for the poster he would create. The stylized flames and stars surrounding the crimson vehicle echo Gallen-Kallelas Art Nouveau/Jugendstil visual language familiar from many of his fin-de-siecle paintings and graphic works. At the same time, Bil-Bol embraces a twentieth-century commercial poster aesthetic by elevating the luxury item as a fulcrum of the buyers’ desires.
This poster was featured in the recent Art Nouveau show in London and Washington D.C. Ghislaine Wood, assistant curator of the Art Nouveau exhibit, gave this appreciation of the Gallen-Kallela poster in the catalogue: Folk culture was often used as a vehicle to express modernity: “The Kalevala folk story of the Snatching of Kyllikki has been transformed: the sledge becomes a red car and Lemminkainen, the hero, is a besuited motor-car fanatic. Bil-Bol is perhaps one of the earliest advertisements overtly to endow a product with a value that is symbolic, here the promise of sexual fulfillment; a value that has been a mainstay of advertising in the twentieth century.” (Art Nouveau, pp 19-160).