"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jean Carlu (1900 - 1997) was a French advertising and graphic illustrator. Together with Cassandre, Paul Colin and Loupot Charles was one of the most important French advertising poster artists of the postwar period. His style was influenced by Cubism. He distinguished himself at the time for ist clear and concise communication skills.
Severo Pozzati (1895 –1983), a.k.a. Sepo, was an Italian graphic designer. He was one of the most important adverts posters designers of Europe. He gave more importance to communication in advertising instead of being concentrated just on the decorative function of it.
Leonetto Cappiello (1875 - 1942) was an Italian advertising illustrator and caricaturist. He was one of the fathers of modern advertising posters art and the most innovative of the time. His innovative style was mostly captured in its works from 1899 until 1920.
Soon, Art Deco style posters became incredibly popular. They totally caught the essence of the modern man’s desire to consume and possess during the machine age.
Today, these eye-catching posters that worth a fortune, still stand out for their unique style of capturing the moment. Pioneer advertising illustrators and their works are a great example of how an effective communication can control our tastes, creating new needs and making something more desirable to our eyes.
One can imagine the reaction of the message’s addressee, influenced at a point of no return, be like “Man, I need this in my life!”