An ad for vermouth is transformed into a swirling arabesque in this extremely rare poster by Adolfo Hohenstein. As the so-called “father of the Italian poster” and a leading proponent of the Italian Art Nouveau movement, known as Stile Liberty, Hohenstein utilized dramatic effects of light, space and color to offer a graphic intensity which appealed perfectly to the Italian temperament
His poster Vino Vermouth is a perfect example. It becomes a dreamy allegory of creation as Pan, the classical god of fertility, blows into his reed pipe. The music appears to stimulate the vines, which form a sinuous, pulsating frame around him. They draw our eyes to a seductive nymph dramatically perched behind him, who ceremoniously squeezes the ripened grapes into a chalice fit for Bacchus. Every element, right down to its lettering with its interlocking ‘o’s, is infused with an irresistible energy that so defines the essence of Art Nouveau.
Hohenstein was born in Russia of German parents, and came to the great Italian firm of Ricordi in 1889. Famous as the music publisher of Verdi and Puccini, Ricordi expanded its lithography operation under Hohenstein who made it the leading poster publisher in Italy as well. His opera posters Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Iris are amongst the most recognized posters of all time. And as a mentor, Hohenstein proved to be incomparable as the artists working under him reads like a who’s who of Italian poster art.
Little is known about his life, but his art clearly shows that he was deeply influenced by Mucha and was more than familiar with French Art Nouveau, German Jugendstil, and the Vienna Secession.