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Style Primers

Quickly explore the world of poster styles, beginning with the organic flourishes of Art Nouveau illustration in the 1890s to the minimal and clean International Typographic Style graphics of the Fifties to the computer-aided designs of today.

Art Nouveau Posters

Easily recognized by its sumptuous, curvilinear designs, Art Nouveau was born in France at the end of the 19th century and remained the predominant international decorative style until World War I.  The sensual, organic images changed the face of advertising and launched a poster craze that swept Europe and America during the Belle Epoque.  The gallery's diverse collection features an array of masterpieces, from early American literary posters to one of our specialties, Italian Art Nouveau.


Plakatstil: The Poster Style

The Poster Style, or Plakatstil, was begun in 1905 by Lucian Bernhard in Berlin. For a poster competition sponsored by Preister matches he took the novel approach of drawing two large matches and writing the brand name above them in clean, bold letters. The stark simplicity of the design won him the competition, and marked a departure from the fussy and decorative Art Nouveau style, which was beginning to lose its vitality...


Cappiello Style Posters

Known as the father of modern advertising, Leonetto Cappiello created a unique poster style that was widely imitated. Cappiello came to Paris from his native Italy in 1898, and quickly became famous for his caricatures of Parisian actresses. Shortly thereafter Cappiello began to create posters, using the simplicity and energy of Cheret and the caricature of Toulouse-Lautrec as his stylistic models...


Art Deco Posters

Art Deco replaced Art Nouveau as the major international decorative style after World War I and continued until World War II. Art Deco represented a machine age aesthetic, replacing flowing, floral motifs with streamlined, geometric designs that expressed the speed, power and scale of modern technology...


A.M. Cassandre Posters

A.M. Cassandre (1901 - 1968) burst onto the Paris scene in the mid 1920s and was soon recognized as the father of a new, Machine Age poster style. Strongly influenced by modern art, Cassandre's work shocked the public with its dynamic compositions, abstract geometry and daring typography integrated into the image. Suddenly, the illustration-based caricatures of Cappiello looked dated next to Cassandre?s intellectual and airbrushed designs, inspired by Cubism, Futurism and Surrealism and the wonders of the modern world.


Object Posters

The term "Sachplakat", or "Object Poster" was coined in Germany to describe a new type of poster which featured a realistic depiction of the product and little else. Lucien Bernhard's revolutionary 1905 poster for Preister matches is considered the first of this type, and its utter simplicity became a hallmark of the emerging Plakatstil (Poster Style). The craze for this poster type continued in Switzerland, where the passion for precision in printing and drawing technique was unsurpassed...


Constructivist Posters

The term Constructivism was coined by a socially minded group of artists working in the Soviet Union at the end of the Bolshevik Civil War in the early '20s. The Constructivists were young artists who felt that art should have a revolutionary purpose and should contribute to the "construction" of a new communist society, one based on science and modern technology.


Futurist Posters

Futurism was one of the first "isms" of the 20th century - and one of the most influential. Begun by the Italian poet Tommaso Marinetti in 1908, Futurism was a movement and a style which glorified modern technology and rejected the past...


Mid-Century Modern: International Typographic Style Posters

A new graphic design style emerged in Switzerland in the 1950s that would become the predominant graphic style in the world by the '70s. Because of its strong reliance on typographic elements, the new style came to be known as the International Typographic Style...


Mid-Century Modern: 1950s Style Posters

The decade after World War II was a period of exhaustion, recovery and an attempt to return to normalcy. Posters turned from the strident propaganda of the war years to the world of consumer pleasures such as food, fashion, entertainment and electronics. Two diametrically opposite trends resulted in poster art, one rational and tightly structured (the International Typographic Style - often called Mid-Century Modern) and the other gently humorous and playfully relaxed, which we dub the 1950s Style.


Mid-Century Modern: 1960s Style Posters

Following the orderliness of the Fifties, the Sixties gave way to a more chaotic and revolutionary illustration style. The first wave of Post-Modernist sensibility included dynamic Pop Art, psychedelic, protest, and Mad Man era inspired designs.


Post-Modernist Posters

The International Style began to lose its energy in the '70s and early '80s. Many criticized it for being cold, formal and dogmatic. A young teacher in Basel named Wolfgang Weingart pushed beyond its boundaries and ushered in today's predominant graphic style loosely known as Post-Modernism.