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AS THE INDUSTRIAL AGE SWEPT IN, a new kind of advertising emerged in America: the "artistic poster." The genre first appeared in France where cultural events were promoted by large posters. It was a "postimpressionism" age where printer arts, such as the poster and "hand bill" became a legitimate art form. And, get this: the movement and the "artistic poster" actually established graphic design as a respected profession. Artists such as Aubrey Beardsley and and Alphonse Mucha applied their artistic decoration to popular publications and posters of the day. Will Bradley, one of the most influential American poster artists also happens to be one of the first artists to be called an art director! (At right we see another of Alphonse Mucha's most memorable works. There's also a larger version.)

If you want to dig into the age of Art Nouveau, authorities agree Mucha is the artist to study. Our art above is taken from the Alphonse Mucha : The Spirit of Art Nouveau by Victor Arwas, Jana A. Brabcova, Jean-Marie Bruson, Anna Dvorak. This lavishly illustrated book presents the full spectrum of Alphonse Mucha's works, from his innovative posters and decorative panels to his architectural designs, jewelry, sculpture, photographs, books, and interiors. The authors discuss Mucha's years in Paris, his iconography of Sarah Bernhardt, his service to the Czech government, his distinctive style that became nearly synonymous with turn-of-the-century French Art Nouveau, and much more.

Our art (above, right) is from The Complete Masters of the Poster by Roger Marx, with Stanley Appelbaum (Editor) which includes all 256 Color Plates from Les Maitred De L'Affiche. If you're a designer, illustrator or just a a collector of antique posters this is the last word in Posters. Roger Marx has gathered an astounding selection of posters spanning an entire era of high-art visual communications. Each carries thorough background information as well. Designers: it's a treasure trove of great ideas.

Not since the classic era would a decorative movement find its way into every day life. It became wrought and cast in iron for decoration of buildings, interiors and even every day objects. Art Nouveau was filled with of space and asymmetry. The movement gave birth to Victorian furniture, Tiffany and a generation of artsmiths who followed the theme of flowing lines, subtle hues and beautifully sullen women. It was a new free style which completely upset the centered stoic beliefs of Renaissance centered stuffiness.

The Art NouveauThe Essence of Art Nouveau by Paul Greenhalgh leads you through the key elements of the richly ornamental style that took Europe and America by storm at the turn of the last century. The book features short thematic sections and a rich selection of fabulous artworks in every medium, some well known and others previously unpublished.
___ Author Paul Greenhalgh is exhibition curator and editor of the accompanying book, Art Nouveau, 1890-1914. If you wish to study further into Art Nouveau, this book is one well worth purchasing.


While the importance of the Art Nouveau movement cannot be denied, it is important to understand it was a fleeting and transitional period. As the 1920s drew to a close, styles began to sober. Lines began to straighten. Images became highly stylized and even stark as they began to mimic the tightening grip of an impending depression in America. But then, that's another story all together.


Art Nouveau typeface created in 1900 "Eckmann-Schmuck," designed by Otto Eckmann.


In some forty years the movement came and went. But those years produced a wealth of lead types, and printers' ornaments which art still fresh and appealing today.

Decorating our article here is work by Harold Nelson, just one of the illustrators who appeared in the pages of The Studio, a monthly magazine in London from 1893 well into the 1900s. The Studio was possibly the most important force in spreading acceptance of Art Nouveau to the general public. It gave wide spread visibility to prolific artists like Aubrey Beardsley, Will Bradley, Walter Crane and many others who's work is now enshrined in the world's most prestigious art galleries.

The Art Nouveau movement had tremendous influence on artists, illustrators, and the printing trade in America including an Art Nouveau revival in the post-war, '60s "hippie" movement. Even today we still see the best of Art Nouveau in use throughout the visual communications industry -- like this painting of Marilyn Monroe for "Visages De Renom, SARL" by New York illustrator Les Katz; or the many works of Milton Glaser and his Push-Pin studio.


If you wish to continue with our special Art Nouveau feature, the next section is in the &Type! department, and investigates Art Nouveau Type Fonts





See also:

Promoting Yourself with a little Padding: scratch pad promos from MultiCom Expo
Make A Professional Padding Press: quick and easy step by step instructions

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