Art Nouveau: A Philosophy of Beauty
Early poster artists like Jules Chéret, a pioneer in the use of stone lithography (his company produced the Leopold Stevens print at near left), and Leonetto Cappiello, who created Charbon Chimique Rubaudo (far left), produced complex painterly lithographs with intricate flourishes and stylized topography. Their depth and richness of color, as well as their print quality, make Art Nouveau posters from the late 19th and early 20th centuries among the most coveted and expensive.
Art Deco: Jazz Age Chic
Lithography, which involves drawing images with a water-resistant medium on a stone or metal plate, was still the primary method for poster-making in the 1920s. But the frills of Art Nouveau were out and bold colors and geometric lines were the rules of the day—including for posters. Charles Villot’s Au Grand Pasteur (far left) is an iconic example. The artist behind the Ramos-Pinto port poster is known only as Vincent.
Wartime: The Art of Politics
Posters found new purpose during World Wars I and II: Instead of selling product they sold opinion. James Montgomery Flagg’s Uncle Sam (whose face Flagg based on his own) recruited soldiers for the Army. MICH’s dramatic Cri du Nord advertised a socialist newspaper.
Postwar: Modern Messages
With the fighting over and the economy on the rebound, posters were used to promote everything from TV to talc. A new stenciling technique, serigraphy, allowed for bright applications of color that reflected the buoyant and optimistic international mood. A.M. Cassandre’s Philips poster (far left) expresses the excitement of the newly arrived broadcast era. Even the fire emanating from Godzilla’s mouth in a Polish movie poster (near left) looks cheery.