Posters have been an influential media from the 18th through the 20th centuries. The written word had a crucial role in the spread of ideas, the development of civilization, and the evolution of humankind. Perhaps before the invention of newspapers, radio, and television, the only way to get the word out was through historic posters, which can be seen in designated spots in most cities and public spaces nowadays. Thousands upon thousands of eye-catching posters were created during the heyday of the art form from the 1880s through the 1970s.
Since vintage art exhibition posters for living rooms can be mass-produced in large quantities of near-identical duplicates for a low price, they served as a vital mass-communications instrument. The evolution of printed materials into something more sophisticated and colourful is largely attributable to the discovery and invention of printing methods. Artists in Paris were drawn to the poster medium because of its financial viability and aesthetic appeal. These priceless treasures of art were formerly only available for unimaginable sums. As a result, the evolution of printing has always corresponded closely with the evolution of poster art.
An effective poster’s design features, then, include the following: • Capturing the attention of people who are typically in a hurry; • Enticing people to read the information available; • Presenting the information fully within a the design; • and having the power to influence and convince the reader.
Posters are used for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to: • as a form of commercial advertising; • as a kind of public service notice or alert from government agencies; and • as a form of political propaganda.
Historical Moments: The Rise of Poster Art
A poster is a “public” work of art that is meant to be displayed on a wall and comes in a variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate different spaces. The purpose of posters is communication, and they accomplish this goal via the use of visuals and text. This type of advertising is often created in a variety of sizes and hung either vertically or horizontally so that it can be read from close range.
Ephemera with a broadside design
Broadsides were the first posters ever made, and they were used to announce public decrees and government commercial notices. Often referred to as “ephemera,” early broadsides were hastily printed in vast quantities before being given away for free. The words on a broadside were meant to be read quickly, communicate a message, and then be thrown away.
The wood cut printing process was chosen for the broadside. Woodcut printing begins with ornate wooden letters etched or carved into the wooden surface to create varying “depth” on the wooden blocks, which are then lathered with ink and pushed against paper or fabric. While wooden cut prints were a fast and cheap way to make several copies of the same thing, they were not well-suited to creating posters with detailed illustrations or sketches.
Ukiyo-e and other forms of Japanese woodblock printing have had a significant impact
Woodblock printing dates back to the seventh century and is one of the earliest printing methods used for literature and artwork in the East. Japanese painters used it to create works of art that were both beautiful and colourful. It was a lengthy procedure in which artists made sketches and paintings in preparation for a skilled craftsman to trace them onto a wooden block. Ukiyo-e, literally “floating world,” was a kind of Japanese printmaking that skyrocketed to fame in the 1850s when it was used to advertise theatres, teahouses, and Tokyo’s most attractive courtesans. Those were the Japanese posters from way back when. Woodblock art is thought to have heavily influenced painters working in Paris at the period, serving as a forerunner to their modernist aesthetic by employing similar bold black contour shapes and flat, striking hues.3.
The Development of the First Printing Method Using Lithographic Stones
Alois Senefelder developed lithography in 1796 as a low-cost means of publishing theatrical performances. It operates under the principle that oil and water do not combine. A fat, oil, or wax will be used to create the artwork and illustrations directly on a lime stone. The sections of the stone that were not coated in fat, oil, or wax are subsequently etched away using acid and Arabic gum. Lime stone is then painted and rubbed on a sheet of paper or fabric to transfer the colour.
New Technology: The Three-Stone Lithography Procedure
French artist Jules Cheret (1836-1932) is remembered for creating more than a thousand unique prints. He pioneered the use of lithography and is sometimes referred to as the “father of modern posters.” Three stone lithography, an improvement he made to the lithographic method, allowed for the first time for mass production of multicoloured prints. This method gave painters access to a wide palette by allowing them to blend yellow, blue, and red ink from three separate lithographic stones. Three-stone lithography was a laborious process, but it allowed artists to print a limitless number of copies of vibrant, eye-catching works of art that featured intricate sketches and drawings onto paper, canvas, and other materials.
Five Years of Vintage Poster Art in Paris: 1871-1914
Belle époque, often known as la belle époque or “the lovely age,” was a time of unprecedented economic progress and social sophistication in France. Paris’s nightlife and performing arts, including cabarets, music halls, and theatres, flourished during a period of relative calm and prosperity that saw the rise of nouveau-riches (successful French businessmen). The Moulin Rouge and the Folies Bergere are only two of the most famous cabarets in the world. In exchange, these enterprises needed promotion and publicity to thrive. Posters were often used to depict the “dream” that the joints advertised.
Poster Art and Its Relation to the Arts Movement
The period between the 1880s and the 1960s is considered by many to be poster art’s apex. Beautiful posters began appearing on the streets of Paris in the 1870s, quickly spreading to Berlin and Milan before making their way to other European and American cities. It quickly replaced previous forms of contact as the norm. Publication houses and advertising agencies frequently sought out poster artists to commission new works and projects. During the Belle Époque (1871-1917) in France, poster art was at its peak. It was also at this time that several important fine artists, like Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnat, and a young Pablo Picasso, established themselves in Paris. As a result, Art Nouveau and, subsequently, Art Deco, both of which were prominent up until the 1940s, had a significant impact on the aesthetics and design of posters.
In between the wars, throughout the Art Deco era of the 1920s and the 1940s
After World War I, the 1920s saw the rise of a new style of visual art in France known as “Art Deco,” which peaked in the 1940s as the country entered its postwar depression. Post-World War I was a time of rapid industrialization, mass production, and automation; the aesthetic philosophy that melds together art themes with machines images became prominent during this time. Art Deco features bold and symmetrical geometric forms, vibrant hues, and ornate embellishment. It was a symbol of the optimism, modernity, and glitz that came with the rise of the industrial and technological revolutions. The influence of the Art Deco movement was felt in several creative fields outside graphic design, including architecture, interior design, and fashion.
Leonetto Cappiello, one of the most well-known artists of the time, is responsible for numerous iconic posters that personified the ideals of the Art Deco movement. Towards the conclusion of the Art Nouveau period, he picked up the sagging poster business in Paris and injected new life into it with his distinctive paintings. His writings are notable for their unconventionality, their simplicity, and the profound influence they have on the reader. Later on, he would go down in history books as the “Father of Modern Advertising.”
AM Cassandre (1901-1968), a great French artist, designer, and painter of the Art Deco era, is another well-known figure from the time. One of his finest posters, which features a classic Art Deco layout, is shown here.
Similar to Art Nouveau, Jugedstil (1890 – 1914)
During this time, Art Nouveau was a major influence on period poster design and aesthetics. Modern arts are used to describe this departure from post-impressionism and neoclassicism. This aesthetic is a radical break from conventional wisdom. The ornamental style is distinguished by an abundance of organic features like curvy people with long hair, flowers, and flowing lines.
During this time in Paris, artists demonstrated exceptional skill in the field of poster design and lithographic stone printing method. All too soon after being posted, posters were taken down because they had been stolen. During the years 1895–1900, Jules Cheret published the monthly magazine Maitres d’ l’ affiche to capitalise on the booming poster industry. Small-format (11 x 15 inch) reproductions of the greatest works of 97 Parisian painters. Prints were sold in sets of four and supplied to subscribers on a monthly basis.
The departure of significant figures like Toulouse Lautrec’s death, Jules Cheret’s pursuit of fine art painting, and Alphonse Mucha’s migration to the United States and subsequent settlement in Czechoslovakia all contributed to a period of decline for the Parisian poster scene in the twentieth century. The painters’ work had a major impact on the Art Nouveau movement, which was on the decline.
Notable poster artists from this time period include:
- Mucha, Alphonse
- Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
- Jules Cheret
- Theophile Stenlein
- Eugene Grasset
Reducing Use of Posters
Overall, posters have been an important tool in the previous 100 years, with far-reaching impacts. Since the widespread adoption of radio and television after the war’s close, posters have fallen out of favour and are now in their last years as a primary means of advertising. Giant outdoor advertisements, including billboards and neon signs, were more affordable and industrially manufactured with the development of photo offset printing and lighting technology in the 1960s.Share this post!