The seductive design of Art Deco posters

Updated: Jun 30

"An assertively modern style that ran to symmetry rather than asymmetry, and to the rectilinear rather than the curvilinear; it responded to the demands of the machine and of new material and the requirements of mass production".

-Definition of the Art Deco visual art design by the historian Bevis Hillier



In one of my previous posts, I talked about the Art Deco Style and how this movement influenced everyday life at the time. Geometric shapes in design and the use of the new materials in construction, such as glass and steel, reflected the need of a new machine era, the desire of technological progress, glamour, movement and power which characterised the 1920s Great Gatsby era.


The art deco style represented a natural evolution of the “Art Nouveau” movement that could be found in France 10 years before. This “total” art style, inspired by natural forms and structures, particularly the curved lines of plants and flowers, embraced all figurative arts like architecture, graphic art, interior design. It also influenced the decorative arts including jewellery, furniture, textiles, household silver and other utensils, and lighting, as well as the fine arts.


The use of posters for advertising began in 1890 thanks to Art Nouveau.

One of the most representative exponent of the Art Nouveau movement was Czech artist Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) whose creations stood out for the elegance and sensuality of the feminine body portrayed surrounded by floral motifs.



Art Nouveau style "Savonnerie de Bagnolet" poster by Alphonse Mucha, 1897
Art Nouveau poster "Moët and Chandon Cremant Imperial" by Alphonse Mucha, 1899

After the Great war advertisement posters shifted from flowing, floral illustration to streamlined, geometric graphic design.

While Art Nouveau style made use of graceful curvy flower shapes, borrowed from nature, Art Déco was totally the opposite: symmetric lines, modern shapes like spheres, polygons and rectangles represented the newly established approach to technology and industrialisation. And, as it happened for the Art Nouveau, the Art Déco style influenced all the figurative arts and everyday life with advertising and magazines. Futurist paintings as well as posters were most influenced by Cubism, as this movement, making use of geometrical forms, allowed them to better coordinate the different expression of thoughts and transfigure the essence of trendiness and modernity on the Roaring 1920s.


As the technological progress and economic growth ride the wave of the industrial revolution, many companies understood the value of an effective advertising and the impact that this could have in influencing the potential customers. By this way, these companies begun commissioning to poster illustrators some works for their printed commercials. Clothing, woman’s cosmetics, cigars, shoes, films, drinks and food, every king of good was publicised by these artworks of great impact. Geometric shapes were new means of communication along with contrasting colours and suggestive subjects were used to make a great impact on public. Inherently seductive posters were able to catch the audience attention at first sight and made every item look appealing and desirable.


Art Nouveau style "F. Champenois Imprimeur-Éditeur" by Alphonse Mucha, 1897




René Magritte

Magritte (1898 -1967) was a Belgian surrealist artist. His images were provoking and he often depicted ordinary objects in an unusual context. His works are known for challenging observers' preconditioned perceptions of reality. He influenced pop, minimalist and conceptual art.



René Magritte "Oh! Oh! Je n' savais pas ça!", sheet music, 1926

René Magritte "Cimères", sheet music, 1925

René Magritte "Jardin d'amour", sheet music, 1925






Cassandre

Pseudonym of Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron (1901 –1968) was a French painter, commercial poster artist and typeface designer. His unique advertising style led him to become one of the most important French advertising poster designers.


Cassandre "Normandie ", 1935

Cassandre "In Wagon Lits" 1932

Cassandre "L'Atlantique", 1931

Cassandre "Nord Express", 1925


Cassandre "United States Lines", 1928

Cassandre "Pivolo Aperitif Aux Vins De France", 1924






Federico Seneca

Federico Seneca (1891 - 1976) was an Italian advertising and graphic designer. It was one of the most prominent graphic designer requested by major companies at the time which commissioned to him their advert campaigns.


Federico Seneca "Buitoni", 1928

Federico Seneca "Cacao Perugina", 1930

Federico Seneca "Modiano", 1930

Federico Seneca "Coppa della Perugina", 1924

Federico Seneca "Amaro Ramazzotti", 1933






Charles Loupot

Charles Loupot (1892 – 1962) was a French advertising graphic designer. His style was unique and very impressive, inspired by the Cubism and the Italian Futurism movement. Together with Paul Colin and Jean Carlu he was one of the most important creative minds in French advertising field.



Charles Loupot "Chemin de Fer du Nord", 1929

Charles Loupot "Peugeot" 1926

Charles Loupot "Valisère Lingerie", 1928

Charles Loupot "Sérodent", 1935

Charles Loupot "Twining" 1930

Charles Loupot "Col Van Heusen" 1928

Charles Loupot "Voisin Automobiles", 1923

Charles Loupot "Golden Club", 1925

Charles Loupot "Chemin de Fer du Nord", 1929

Charles Loupot "Chocolat Fondant Dauphimet", 1926





Marcello Dudovich

Marcello Dudovich (1878 –1962) was an Italian painter, illustrator, and poster designer. Together with Leonetto Cappiello, Adolfo Hohenstein, Giovanni Maria Mataloni and Leopoldo Metlicovitz he is considered one of the progenitors of Italian poster design. His works date back to 1910.


Marcello Dudovich "Fiat Balilla", 1934

Marcello Dudovich "Agfa", 1925

Marcello Dudovich "Vermouth Martini", 1920

Marcello Dudovich "La Rinascente" store, 1920s

Marcello Dudovich "La Rinascente. Fiera del bianco", 1935

Marcello Dudovich "Olivetti", 1921

Marcello Dudovich "Lloyd Triestino Espresso Italia-India", 1930

Marcello Dudovich "Pirelli", 1919

Marcello Dudovich "La Rinascente", 1935






Paul Colin

Paul Colin (1892 - 1985) was one of France’s greatest poster artists. His Art Deco style quickly became highly personal and impossible to categorise: the synthetic accuracy of his portraits, the evocative force of his posters marked him as a master of visual communication that his work today remains relevant and fresh.


Paul Colin "Bal Nègre", for Josephine Baker show in Paris, 1927