Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Milwaukee Art Museum: The Posters of Paris

On June 1, the Milwaukee Art Museum opened its current special exhibit, "The Posters of Paris,Toulouse-Lautrec and His Contemporaries." Georgie and I went to see on June 4th.

The exhibit covers the high period of French poster art, from the 1870's to the early 20th century, with concentration in the 1890's which was the peak of the poster phenomenon.

Advances in printing processes in the 1870's made large, colorful posters easy and cost-effective to produce, which rapidly made posters THE favored advertising medium. The exhibition includes photographs of walls plastered three stories and more high with rank upon rank of every sort of advertisement. With such competition to catch the public eye, effective use of color and design became a necessity for success.

The exhibition opens with the work of Jules Cheret, called "the father of the poster." His masterful use of color and lively, often humorous designs paved the way for other, more expressive and dynamic artists to follow.

The most famous of these was Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. He radically changed poster style with his use of bold blocks of color, sharp line, and recognizable, though minimal, silouhettes. If nothing else, it was worth coming to this exhibition just to see some of these posters in real life. One is used to seeing them on a book page, or small reproductions. In reality, the famous Toulouse-Lautrec poster for the Moulin-Rouge featuring "La Goulue" is more than six feet tall, which gives it a much more significant impact.

The exhibition consists of a hundred posters by Cheret, Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre Bonnard, and Alphonse Mucha, among others, advertising cabarets, theatres, beers, and the oftern wonderfully weird celebrations of that other transformative technology of the time, the bicycle.

Highly reccommended. The exhibition continues through September 9th.

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Tags: art
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