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Home : About Poster Art : Style Primers

Style Primers

Quickly explore the world of poster styles, beginning with the organic flourishes of Art Nouveau illustration in the 1890s to the minimal and clean International Typographic Style graphics of the Fifties to the computer-aided designs of today.

Art Nouveau Posters

Art Nouveau, or "New Art" was the leading international decorative style which began around 1890 and continued until World War I. Known as Jugendstil ("Young Style") in Germany and Stile Liberty in Italy, Art Nouveau featured an organic, flowing line which took its inspiration from nature...

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Plakatstil: Poster Style

The Poster Style, or Plakatstil, was begun in 1905 by Lucian Bernhard in Berlin. For a poster competition sponsored by Preister matches he took the novel approach of drawing two large matches and writing the brand name above them in clean, bold letters. The stark simplicity of the design won him the competition, and marked a departure from the fussy and decorative Art Nouveau style, which was beginning to lose its vitality...

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Art Deco Posters

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...

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A.M. Cassandre

A.M. Cassandre (1901 - 1968) burst onto the Paris scene in the mid 1920s and was soon recognized as the father of a new, Machine Age poster style. Strongly influenced by modern art, Cassandre's work shocked the public with its dynamic compositions, abstract geometry and daring typography integrated into the image. Suddenly, the illustration-based caricatures of Cappiello looked dated next to Cassandre?s intellectual and airbrushed designs, inspired by Cubism, Futurism and Surrealism and the wonders of the modern world.

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Cappiello Style

Known as the father of modern advertising, Leonetto Cappiello created a unique poster style that was widely imitated. Cappiello came to Paris from his native Italy in 1898, and quickly became famous for his caricatures of Parisian actresses. Shortly thereafter Cappiello began to create posters, using the simplicity and energy of Cheret and the caricature of Toulouse-Lautrec as his stylistic models...

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Constructivism

The term Constructivism was coined by a socially minded group of artists working in the Soviet Union at the end of the Bolshevik Civil War in the early '20s. The Constructivists were young artists who felt that art should have a revolutionary purpose and should contribute to the "construction" of a new communist society, one based on science and modern technology.

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Futurism

Futurism was one of the first "isms" of the 20th century - and one of the most influential. Begun by the Italian poet Tommaso Marinetti in 1908, Futurism was a movement and a style which glorified modern technology and rejected the past...

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Object Posters

The term "Sachplakat", or "Object Poster" was coined in Germany to describe a new type of poster which featured a realistic depiction of the product and little else. Lucien Bernhard's revolutionary 1905 poster for Preister matches is considered the first of this type, and its utter simplicity became a hallmark of the emerging Plakatstil (Poster Style). The craze for this poster type continued in Switzerland, where the passion for precision in printing and drawing technique was unsurpassed...

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International Typographic Style

A new graphic design style emerged in Switzerland in the 1950s that would become the predominant graphic style in the world by the '70s. Because of its strong reliance on typographic elements, the new style came to be known as the International Typographic Style...

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1950s Style

The decade after World War II was a period of exhaustion, recovery and an attempt to return to normalcy. Posters turned from the strident propaganda of the war years to the world of consumer pleasures such as food, fashion, entertainment and electronics. Two diametrically opposite trends resulted in poster art, one rational and tightly structured (the International Typographic Style - often called Mid-Century Modern) and the other gently humorous and playfully relaxed, which we dub the 1950s Style.

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Post-Modernism

The International Style began to lose its energy in the '70s and early '80s. Many criticized it for being cold, formal and dogmatic. A young teacher in Basel named Wolfgang Weingart pushed beyond its boundaries and ushered in today's predominant graphic style loosely known as Post-Modernism.

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