Posters Of The 1890'S


The 1890's was the beginning of the first poster graphics. Not only have these posters been seen as advertisements but they are also looked upon as works of art. Two excellent examples of different work done during this period are Alphonse Mucha's Lorenzaccio (1898) and Henri Toulouse- Lautrec's Jardin de Paris (1893). Each poster is equally exquisite in it's line, style, color, composition, and perspective.
Alphonse Mucha was born in 1860 and traveled to Paris in 1890. He designed posters in the fashionable Byzantine style of ornamentation. In Mucha's Lorenzaccio this can clearly be seen. The poster is a cropped image in the vertical pillar style with elaborate ornamentation through out. There is written word on the top and bottom as typical of many of his works. By the writing around the figure we can see that the poster was intended to be made for Sarah Bernhardt.
The poster exhibits intricate, flowing line with sharp outlines. The active, curvilinear line dominates the picture. It's dramatic, decorative design can be seen through the dragon that looks straight into our eyes. There are distinct monochromatic colors of green, brown and red. Lorenzaccio is a heavily detailed, two dimensional poster with no middle ground. The subject is off in thought in the poster. The clothing she is wearing particularly adds to the active line. The background is extremely decorative. Altogether the poster is created with a compartmentalized composition.
I would characterize Mucha's work in the Art Nouveau style because of his use of decorative style with simplified forms. His sharp, curvilinear line; full color tones, and Cloisonisme composition add to the stylistic qualities.
However, I believe that Henri Toulouse- Lautrec's Jardin de Paris is especially well designed as the use of a poster and work of art. I prefer this poster better because of its different approach to advertising in a clear, eye catching way, and its use of distortion for effect. Much of Lautrec's style comes from Cheret from the English Arts and Crafts movement. The impact of Lautrec's work can also be seen through other artists as Pablo Picasso in his The Blue Room (1901).
His subject, which he used many times in his work, is Jane Avril. In this poster we see her as the orchestra member would. Lautrec creates her as a broad silhouette with a face that looks tired and unhappy. Jardin de Paris is unique in that the flowing form of the orchestra member brings us up to the picture where the distinct color is used on the dancer. Lautrec uses bright red and yellow to accentuate her, and uses gray and black for the rest of the composition.
He uses simplified forms with distinct, dark outlines. In this work, like Mucha's, there are two dimensional, Cloisonisme qualities created in a vertical pillar form. The asymmetrical objects help to create the foreground/ background qualities.
The instrument works as a carrier for our eyes to move back and forth from the foreground and background. The orchestra member also creates an exiting picture frame around Jane Avril. The use of angular lines draw the viewers eye to and fro. This can be seen in the angle of the instrument, the backstage, and particularly how the dancer's is bent.
Altogether this is a very bold and striking work. I believe Jardin de Paris to be from the English Arts and Crafts movement because of its emphasis on flat figures, simplified forms and sharp outlines. Both posters exhibit stylistic qualities from both the English Arts and Crafts movement, Art Nouveau and a little Japonisme.