Premier Posters: Art Deco & Art Nouveau Rarities

September 19th through October 31st, 2019

 

We are pleased to announce a star-studded exhibition, Premier Posters: Art Nouveau & Art Deco RaritiesDrawing on recent acquisitions to our collection, the exhibition features hard-to-find works that helped shape the two major decorative movements of the poster’s first 50 years – Art Nouveau and Art Deco classics from the 1890s through the 1930s. The show will be on exhibition in our SoWA gallery in Boston through the end of October. 

 

The poster craze of the 1890s, called the Belle Epoque, witnessed the rapid spread of the new art form to all of Europe and America. Art Nouveau caught on quickly after Alphonse Mucha created his first masterpiece for a Sarah Bernhardt performance in 1895.

 

Art Nouveau's use of new forms and freedom from imitation of historical styles marked it as an early step in modernist design. Sources of Art Nouveau included the Arts and Craft movement, Japanese woodblock design or "Japonisme", and Pre-Raphaelite painting. Another influence was the Symbolist movement, which emphasized the spiritual and sensual in opposition to the increasingly scientific bias of the new century.

 

The term Art Nouveau is often used more broadly to include other related styles of the Belle Epoque, from the Rococo Revival style of Cheret and the Post-Impressionism of Toulouse-Lautrec to the Arts and Crafts style of Roland Holst and the Amsterdam School. In order to simplify matters, we have followed this convention.

 

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. 

 

Design influences were many, from the modern art movements of Cubism, Futurism and Constructivism to ancient geometric design elements from the exotic cultures of Egypt, Assyria and Persia. In poster art, precursors were the German Plakatstil, the Viennese Secession and the Parisian fashion design revolution that began in 1908.

 

The style received its name from the Decorative Arts Exposition of Paris in 1925, which marked the full flowering of Art Deco design (Charles Loupot's poster for this exposition is featured in this show). Simplification and abstraction were always it's hallmarks, although the graceful elegance and exoticism of its early days yielded to a more muscular and forceful style in the late 1920s and 1930s.

 

Exhibition Highlights:

 

Henri de Toulouse-LautrecDivan Japonais, 1893

Toulouse-Lautrec single-handedly legitimized the nascent poster field with his brilliant first poster, Moulin Rouge: La Goulue in 1891. He would create only 31 posters before his death a decade later at 37, and virtually all of them are highly sought after. One of his early works, this enigmatic poster for a small cabaret in Paris called Divan Japonais, is a masterpiece by any standard.

 

As always, Lautrec's treatment of the subject is unorthodox. He focused not on the famous performer, Yvette Guilbert, who appears headless and only recognized through her trademark elbow-length black gloves and gaunt figure. Some have thought that Lautrec was playing a joke on his singer friend who had criticized his previous portrait of her, but it is undoubtedly an important compositional and thematic component of the poster as well.

 

Instead, Lautrec focuses on the mysterious interplay of two members of the audience - his close friend and famous can-can dancer Jane Avril, and her friend and art critic Eduoard Dujardin. The two show little interest in the performance; the beguiling Avril appearing slightly aloof, and certainly the locus of a sexual tension that is vigorously accentuated by the oversized heads of the double bass in the orchestra and the cane of Dujardin. The sharply angled composition, so reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints, intensifies this steamy drama in the cabaret. It also heightens the parallels between the two performers, both motionless, one in the audience and one on stage, who are the center of so much energy in the hall. A tour de force.

 

 

Otto Baumberger, Doelker (die weisse Mode), 1923

This is Baumberger's classic poster for the premier Bally retailer in Zurich. It is one of his earliest Object Posters - utter simplicity, with the elegant lines of the Bally shoe echoed by the elongated fingers on which it rests.

 

As the father of the Swiss poster, Baumberger was prolific and incredibly versatile. This poster, so richly printed by Wolfsberg of Zurich, is one of his rarest and most spectacular. It is a perfect expression of the graceful and flowing phase of early Art Deco in the 1920s.

 

 

Plinio CodognatoFiat 509, 1925

This spectacular poster marks a major milestone in the history of Fiat: the introduction of its first mass-produced car, the Fiat 509, and the first car produced in its new factory in Lingotto, a suburb of Turin.

 

Inspired by Ford's Model T, the 509 was the first Fiat built on an assembly line. It was also the first car that Fiat offered on an installment plan. At the time, the Fiat factory was the largest in the world, a 5 story facility where materials arrived on the first floor and finished cars emerged from the 5th floor, to be tested on the banked curve test track on the roof. The factory itself was a symbol of the greatness of the "New Rome". 

 

Codognato, the leading Italian automotive poster artist, was chosen by Fiat for this important commission. His stirring image shows a gigantic red centaur above the factory thrusting the new model upwards in triumph. A spectacular design!

 

 

A.M. Cassandre, Nord Express, 1927

A. M. Cassandre burst on the Paris scene in the mid-‘20s and was soon recognized as the father of a new, Machine Age poster style. His travel posters were so revolutionary that he essentially reinvented travel poster design. Strongly influenced by modern art, Cassandre’s work shocked the public with its dynamic compositions, abstract geometry, new typographic styles, and tight interplay of word and image.


Unlike his predecessors who portrayed travel destinations, Cassandre focused on the transportation marvels of the Machine Age. This poster advertising the Nord Express, a premier luxury train, combined service across five railroads (referred to around around the poster’s edges). Cassandre’s image glories in the speed and power of a train racing toward infinity.

Cassandre’s talent was widely recognized in the ‘20s, and he became the first poster artist to be honored with a one-man show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1936. He is generally considered the greatest poster artist of the century.

 

 

Mario Borgoni, Le Linee Aeree d'Italia, 1927

Italy was the last major European power to develop a commercial aviation industry but caught up rapidly. Its first two airlines were formed in 1923, and by the time this poster was produced for the Italian National Travel Agency, six were in existence. Five of the six were state supported or owned. By 1930 Italy had catapulted to #4 in air miles among the nations of Europe.

 

This elegant poster featured a Savoia-Marchetti biplane flying above the Italian peninsula, showing all the routes flown by Italian airlines. The inspired design, showing Art Nouveau flourishes, is one of the most beautiful of aviation poster art. It was created by Mario Borgoni, a pioneer of the Italian poster and a travel poster specialist. It is extremely rare.

 


  Shop the Exhibition ->


 

 

Premier Posters: Art Deco & Art Nouveau Rarities

September 19th through October 31st, 2019

 

We are pleased to announce a star-studded exhibition, Premier Posters: Art Nouveau & Art Deco RaritiesDrawing on recent acquisitions to our collection, the exhibition features hard-to-find works that helped shape the two major decorative movements of the poster’s first 50 years – Art Nouveau and Art Deco classics from the 1890s through the 1930s. The show will be on exhibition in our SoWA gallery in Boston through the end of October. 

 

The poster craze of the 1890s, called the Belle Epoque, witnessed the rapid spread of the new art form to all of Europe and America. Art Nouveau caught on quickly after Alphonse Mucha created his first masterpiece for a Sarah Bernhardt performance in 1895.

 

Art Nouveau's use of new forms and freedom from imitation of historical styles marked it as an early step in modernist design. Sources of Art Nouveau included the Arts and Craft movement, Japanese woodblock design or "Japonisme", and Pre-Raphaelite painting. Another influence was the Symbolist movement, which emphasized the spiritual and sensual in opposition to the increasingly scientific bias of the new century.

 

The term Art Nouveau is often used more broadly to include other related styles of the Belle Epoque, from the Rococo Revival style of Cheret and the Post-Impressionism of Toulouse-Lautrec to the Arts and Crafts style of Roland Holst and the Amsterdam School. In order to simplify matters, we have followed this convention.

 

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. 

 

Design influences were many, from the modern art movements of Cubism, Futurism and Constructivism to ancient geometric design elements from the exotic cultures of Egypt, Assyria and Persia. In poster art, precursors were the German Plakatstil, the Viennese Secession and the Parisian fashion design revolution that began in 1908.

 

The style received its name from the Decorative Arts Exposition of Paris in 1925, which marked the full flowering of Art Deco design (Charles Loupot's poster for this exposition is featured in this show). Simplification and abstraction were always it's hallmarks, although the graceful elegance and exoticism of its early days yielded to a more muscular and forceful style in the late 1920s and 1930s.

 

Exhibition Highlights:

 

Henri de Toulouse-LautrecDivan Japonais, 1893

Toulouse-Lautrec single-handedly legitimized the nascent poster field with his brilliant first poster, Moulin Rouge: La Goulue in 1891. He would create only 31 posters before his death a decade later at 37, and virtually all of them are highly sought after. One of his early works, this enigmatic poster for a small cabaret in Paris called Divan Japonais, is a masterpiece by any standard.

 

As always, Lautrec's treatment of the subject is unorthodox. He focused not on the famous performer, Yvette Guilbert, who appears headless and only recognized through her trademark elbow-length black gloves and gaunt figure. Some have thought that Lautrec was playing a joke on his singer friend who had criticized his previous portrait of her, but it is undoubtedly an important compositional and thematic component of the poster as well.

 

Instead, Lautrec focuses on the mysterious interplay of two members of the audience - his close friend and famous can-can dancer Jane Avril, and her friend and art critic Eduoard Dujardin. The two show little interest in the performance; the beguiling Avril appearing slightly aloof, and certainly the locus of a sexual tension that is vigorously accentuated by the oversized heads of the double bass in the orchestra and the cane of Dujardin. The sharply angled composition, so reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints, intensifies this steamy drama in the cabaret. It also heightens the parallels between the two performers, both motionless, one in the audience and one on stage, who are the center of so much energy in the hall. A tour de force.

 

 

Otto Baumberger, Doelker (die weisse Mode), 1923

This is Baumberger's classic poster for the premier Bally retailer in Zurich. It is one of his earliest Object Posters - utter simplicity, with the elegant lines of the Bally shoe echoed by the elongated fingers on which it rests.

 

As the father of the Swiss poster, Baumberger was prolific and incredibly versatile. This poster, so richly printed by Wolfsberg of Zurich, is one of his rarest and most spectacular. It is a perfect expression of the graceful and flowing phase of early Art Deco in the 1920s.

 

 

Plinio CodognatoFiat 509, 1925

This spectacular poster marks a major milestone in the history of Fiat: the introduction of its first mass-produced car, the Fiat 509, and the first car produced in its new factory in Lingotto, a suburb of Turin.

 

Inspired by Ford's Model T, the 509 was the first Fiat built on an assembly line. It was also the first car that Fiat offered on an installment plan. At the time, the Fiat factory was the largest in the world, a 5 story facility where materials arrived on the first floor and finished cars emerged from the 5th floor, to be tested on the banked curve test track on the roof. The factory itself was a symbol of the greatness of the "New Rome". 

 

Codognato, the leading Italian automotive poster artist, was chosen by Fiat for this important commission. His stirring image shows a gigantic red centaur above the factory thrusting the new model upwards in triumph. A spectacular design!

 

 

A.M. Cassandre, Nord Express, 1927

A. M. Cassandre burst on the Paris scene in the mid-‘20s and was soon recognized as the father of a new, Machine Age poster style. His travel posters were so revolutionary that he essentially reinvented travel poster design. Strongly influenced by modern art, Cassandre’s work shocked the public with its dynamic compositions, abstract geometry, new typographic styles, and tight interplay of word and image.


Unlike his predecessors who portrayed travel destinations, Cassandre focused on the transportation marvels of the Machine Age. This poster advertising the Nord Express, a premier luxury train, combined service across five railroads (referred to around around the poster’s edges). Cassandre’s image glories in the speed and power of a train racing toward infinity.

Cassandre’s talent was widely recognized in the ‘20s, and he became the first poster artist to be honored with a one-man show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1936. He is generally considered the greatest poster artist of the century.

 

 

Mario Borgoni, Le Linee Aeree d'Italia, 1927

Italy was the last major European power to develop a commercial aviation industry but caught up rapidly. Its first two airlines were formed in 1923, and by the time this poster was produced for the Italian National Travel Agency, six were in existence. Five of the six were state supported or owned. By 1930 Italy had catapulted to #4 in air miles among the nations of Europe.

 

This elegant poster featured a Savoia-Marchetti biplane flying above the Italian peninsula, showing all the routes flown by Italian airlines. The inspired design, showing Art Nouveau flourishes, is one of the most beautiful of aviation poster art. It was created by Mario Borgoni, a pioneer of the Italian poster and a travel poster specialist. It is extremely rare.

 


  Shop the Exhibition ->