Over a decade ago, International Poster Gallery mounted the first major gallery retrospective of vintage Italian posters in the U.S. While French posters were already well established in the collecting field, Italian poster design was hardly known in its own country, let alone in America. Today that has all changed, and Italian posters are in high demand and the subject of many books and exhibitions around the globe. Throughout this renaissance International Poster Gallery has been at the forefront of major discoveries in the field.
"Italian posters were rarely saved and finding great images is quite difficult, so we are enormously pleased to have assembled this group of masterpieces and present our first Italian show in more than a decade," states International Poster Gallery owner James Lapides. Viva Italia! features more than fifty Italian classics, tracing the Italian poster from its roots in the Italian opera through its triumphs in the bourgeois era before World War I, to the Futurist influenced Art Deco outpouring between WWI and WWII. The exhibition features masterworks, many never or rarely seen, from Mataloni, Hohenstein, Metlicovitz, Dudovich, Cappiello, Seneca, Lazzaro, Riccobaldi, Nizzoli, Boccasile and others.
Fiammiferi senza Fosforo
One of the wildest allegories in Italian Art Nouveau can be seen in Adolfo Hohenstein's Fiammiferi senza Fosforo, an ad for sulphur-free matches, from around 1895. Featuring rich iridescent color in an interwoven, spiraling composition, it is uniquely Italian, offering a vivid contrast to the French poster of the period in its classicism and operatic melodrama.
Three spectacular posters for the great Italian aperitif Campari in the extremely rare oversize Italian format. The first is Leonetto Cappiello's 1921 jester in an orange peel, as fresh as the day it was printed. Although Cappiello would earn the title of "father of modern advertising" in Paris, his posters for Italian clients are amongst his best. Equally as iconic are two 1926 Campari posters from Marcello Nizzoli, perhaps the most versatile of all Italian Art Deco artists. Both the red and black Cubist-inspired Campari posters are as stunningly elegant as Cappiello's is irresistible.
Two late Thirties lottery posters by Gino Boccasile, perhaps the most popular Italian posterist of the era. Boccasile's buxom beauties graced advertisements, magazine covers and postcards, none of them more grand than in these rare large format posters.
Several Italian Art Deco posters, strongly influenced by both Futurism and Fascism. Our most treasured new discovery is Federico Seneca's Seconda Coppa della Perugina, an extraordinary Futurist inspired poster for a 1925 auto race, where the force of passing race cars bends even street lights and trees.
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