01 September 2016

The Art Nouveau Poster

The Art Nouveau Poster
Jules Cheret
The Art Nouveau Poster is "the most comprehensive survey to date" of Art Nouveau poster design. It was first published in French, as L'Affiche Art Nouveau. Author Alain Weill also wrote The Poster: A Worldwide Survey & History, the first and only complete history of posters.

The poster as an art form was a product of the Belle Epoque, benefiting from the development of chromolithography and an advantageous French law: "Although still in its earliest infancy, the poster was about to enjoy a golden age... In this it was helped by a specifically French development in the form of a law that came into force on 29 July 1881, allowing posters to be stuck to any object and to any site that was not specifically excluded."

For the next two decades, Paris was gripped by "affichomanie" ('poster-mania', coined by Octave Uzanne). The leading poster designer of the period was Jules Cheret: "Cheret was undeniably the father of the poster and was hailed as such by his contemporaries." (Many of Cheret's posters were included in Les Maitres De L'Affiche, reprinted in English as The Complete "Masters Of The Poster".)

The standard histories of graphic design (Meggs' History Of Graphic Design and Graphic Design: A New History) both discuss posters in their chapters on Art Nouveau graphics. Josef Muller-Brockmann's History Of The Poster includes a chapter on "The illustrative poster" which focuses on the Art Nouveau era. Ghislaine Wood wrote a chapter on Art Nouveau posters and bookbinding, "The Art of Paper", in Paul Greenhalgh's Art Nouveau 1890-1914.