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Plakatstil: Poster Style

Bernhard, Breisgau-Perle
Bernhard, Lucian.  
Breisgau-Perle, 1914


Cardinaux, PKZ Confection
Cardinaux, Emil.
PKZ - Confection Kehl, 1908.


Diem, Gordon-Bennett-Fahren
Diem, Carl.
Gordon-Bennett-Fahren Stuttgart, 1912

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.

With its reduction of naturalism and emphasis on flat colors and shapes, the new style was the next step beyond Toulouse-Lautrec in creating an abstract visual language. Bernhard's style spread throughout Germany, and became the foundation for a revolution in commercial advertising in pre-war Berlin.

An equally powerful Plakatstil artist named Ludwig Hohlwein arose in Munich who would also have a profound influence on early Swiss poster design and Art Deco.

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Steglitz, I.F. Reiser
Steglitz. Lehmann. I.F. Reiser, circa 1910