Travel through time, from the mid 19th century to the present, by viewing fabulous posters! Countless have been produced since the advent of their popularity during the late 1800s. I feature about a dozen and a half here.
In commercial advertising, the poster has been a major player. The advertisement poster as we know it began in 1798 with the invention of lithography. This new print technology led to Jules Cheret's development of a three-stone lithographic process during the 1880s, resulting in posters drenched in color and with subtleties achieved by the ability to layer color over color.
This poster (Cachou Lajaunie, 1920, by Leonetto Cappiello), advertises the licorice candy-in-a-tin everyone brings home as a souvenir from Paris.
While advances in printing technology were being made, western eyes were now seeing newly-available ukiyo-e woodblock prints from Japan. Trade between Japan and the west had just opened up after over 200 years of Japanese sakoku (closed country). A wildly different, exotic and beautiful world of art and culture poured into Europe. Pottery, furniture, prints and practically anything Japanese was being collected, especially in Paris, France.
The great artists that were painting in Paris and throughout Europe at this time began scouring art stalls for ukiyo-e prints. These beautiful woodblock depictions of Japanese landscapes and of teahouse life spurred artists like Edgar Degas and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec to produce works emulating ukiyo-e's color block pictorial style.
To promote the cabarets, local celebrities, and cultural happenings of Paris cafe society, many fine artists subsidized their incomes by producing advertisement posters, attracting patrons and audiences with their eye-grabbing, provocative graphics.
A colorful cast of characters became celebrities due to the exposure these posters gave them. They couldn't have imagined that we would still know their names to this day.
The spirit of the city's art and social scene, riotous and bawdy, is irresistibly described in this new, eye catching and colorful flatness. Jules Cheret, the lithography innovator, would go on to produce fantastic posters with blazing images impossible to avoid looking at. Advertising local Paris cabarets as well as products such as liqueurs, candies and sodas, Cheret depicted free-spirited females living the fun, fancy free lifestyle. These posters proved very successful in their power to persuade.
From country to country, poster styles are quite distinguishable from one another. For example, Italy advertised its fashion and opera culture through bold, dramatic, and many times enormous poster advertisements while Dutch designs are more straightforward and to the point in their design.
Italian music publisher, Giovanni Ricordi, set up a printing operation and hired the "father of the Italian poster", Adolfo Hohenstein, to create dramatic and huge (some were 10 feet tall) posters promoting the operas of Verdi and Puccini.
In time, the modern lithographic process of offset printing and digital printing have made poster ads ubiquitous. It makes sense that with modern, offset printing came the proliferation of poster advertisements. From the vast number of posters made since these modern printing advancements, the following are examples of posters that stand out as unique. They are visual stepping stones crossing cultural, commercial and ideological history from the late 1800s 'til now.