Paper Drafts & P.O.V.

**Please note: I wrote part of this forgetting about non-entertainment related posters, such as war posters, so this will be reworked to include that information.

Proposed Intro Paragraph

Since its introduction into society, poster illustration has been recognized as one of the most celebrated, accessible, and embraced products of our culture. While posters across time and place demonstrate a vast spectrum of stylistic technique, one can make connections between what a poster is and the imagery existing as a poster. Posters remain very indicative of their era, establishing posters as a significant documentation of sociological history throughout the past two-hundred years. Often times they share entertainment as a theme or subject, whether it be theater, movies, music, or books. Posters exist almost intrusively, seeking their audience rather than being sought out, in order to convey a message/information to everyone, receptive or not. This often sculpts characteristics of aesthetic such as bold choice of color, mark-making, scale, and/or design. The integration of text into an image has surely made a dynamic impact on the illustration industry today. Posters exist in public space, interacting with people as they carry out the course of their day, intertwining themselves with cultural society. This public access (versus the exclusivity of not having disposable income for art collecting through galleries), tied with their reflection of relatable, entertaining material, has made the collection of posters an art form in itself. The dawn of poster illustration has made way for the production of an immense amount of imagery that allows us to get to the heart of the culture it reflects, and still dazzles us today with its eye-catching aesthetics.

Hi guys,

This was an intro I wrote to get us started and try to establish our thesis based on what we talked about last week. I tried to make the following points clear: Posters are what they are…

  • because of their accessibility and exposure to the public> leads to collecting
  • their subject usually relates to entertainment> something appreciated and attainable by the masses
  • their reflection of their time period> can be appreciated in nostalgic terms (historical documentation) and contemporary terms (the aesthetic of the imagery itself)
  • how their purpose shaped the imagery itself> boldness to capture the attention of passerby & the inclusion of text as a graphic element in order to deliver information

If either of you would like to add any points to this, please reply or edit this text. Obviously we will all have our own written voices throughout the paper, but if I did not word things effectively or the message isn’t clear, please feel free to edit or point that out as well. I will continue to work on the body, starting with Lautrec & American poster art, and we can shape the intro as we see fit. Prior to Lautrec in the essay, I think we should talk about the innovations in printmaking technology since that really shaped the beginnings of poster il. Maybe we can fit in sociological changes as well, like the Industrial Revolution & how that opened up possibilities for the entertainment industry (cabarets, bars, etc.).


Thesis: Posters are indicative of the context in which they are made, accessible to and embraced by the public, and typically share a theme of promoting the leisure activities or political agendas.

  1. Historical artifacts> contextualize culture by depicting fashions, trends, environments, etc., what was deemed entertaining, what was considered eye-catching at the time; popular aesthetic (cabaret, psychedelia, graphic)
  2. Accessibility> exist on walls of buildings, inside bedrooms, storefronts, essentially anywhere- people could collect with little to no $- not like gallery setting; meant for mass audience instead of inner art circle
  3. Leisure themes> effectively delivered information along with aesthetic of subject (book, movie, play, music); appeals to artistic eye; go hand in hand bc they are both fun, visual, strengthen impact of one another; Food & wine- luxury;  Travel; War themes

The Beginning- Chronology of Print Technology

  1. Early methods & significance
  2. Breakthrough in lithography> what this means: reproducing image in color, gestural freedom- new aesthetic
  3. Screen-printing and contemporary uses


  1. all text format
  2. purpose & sizes available

French Poster Art- major players; social context- cabarets, actors, location, people  (prostitutes, bourgeoisie, artists> subversive underground mix), art movement

  1. Industrial Revolution- socioeconomic shift- dispensable income, more leisure time, rise of the middle-class
  2. Cabarets, first commissions
  3. Cheret> first Moulin Rouge poster
  4. Toulouse-Lautrec> handicapped aristocrat w artistic talent> had $ to enjoy cafe/cabaret life, fit in well with seedy, but decadent underground culture> worked to capture brothel scenes, social interactions, and contributed to success of cabarets
  5. The Academie Standard & Cafe Life Reaction> power taken from exclusive inner circle to artists who gained fame from the masses by capturing the underworld & popular culture of time> issues of reproducing image, color/brushwork techniques; Academie no longer “the IT crowd”
  6. The actors & their image (propelled by the artists)- Jane Avril, Bruant
  7. Presence of posters in everyday life> streets of Paris became an art gallery, loved by masses> patronized shows> fueled movement more

American Poster Art, Late 19th Cent.

  1. Advertising books & magazines (new, emerged at same time as posters)> The artists, main commissioners/publications, popular works
  2. Immediate craze- collections, limited edition books, poster clubs
  3. An abrupt end- outselling books they were supposed to be promoting

Art Nouveau in Europe

Photomontage, German Expressionism


1940’s War Posters- America vs. Europe

  1. Propaganda- messages being delivered
  2. Rosie the Riveter, Uncle Sam, “loose lips sink ships!”

1950’s Hollywood Posters

  1. appearance determined by industry’s standard & $- Actor/Actress portraits

1950’s Polish posters

  1. Communism- allowed for complete creative freedom because they weren’t commissioned for purpose of selling particular actors/actresses

1960’s Psychedelia & Art of the Fillmore

  1. History of Fillmore & San Francisco scene
  2. How psychadelic drugs shaped Fillmore aesthetic
  3. Music & Art

1960’s Saul Bass Movie Posters


Milton Glaser- Bob Dylan

1980’s and 1990’s- decline in creativity; commercialized

  1. Teen movies
  2. Motivational
  3. Tacky
  4. Music returns to portrait
  5. Worst poster trends – stoner, chart types, beer, t&a


Multiple social factors contributed to the rise and significance of French poster illustration in the late 18th- early 19th century.  This movement was fueled by the cabarets that were possible because of the economic prosperity and increase in leisure time that was a product of the Industrial Revolution of the mid-1800’s. The poster artists of this time, namely Jules Cheret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, were commissioned to create the imagery that would draw the crowds into such cabarets as The Moulin Rouge, The Chat Noir, The Mirliton, and Moulid de la Galette. Their poster designs had to portray the action and excitement patrons would experience upon going through use of color, figure gesture, and technique, while clearly delivering the information pertaining to the show.  For the first time, a painterly, illustrative image with charming hand-rendered text could be produced multiple times in grand scale because of the technology available through color lithography.  From the beginning, with Jules Cheret’s first commission for the Moulin Rouge, closely followed by a second commission for Toulouse-Lautrec, the masses  quickly embraced poster art for what it was: beautiful imagery made especially for them in a commodity they could obtain. The collecting of posters began almost simultaneously to the initial commissioning of posters.

Collecting posters began almost as soon as posters began.

This public accessibility and public embrace of poster art was one of the biggest aspects of the movement’s livelihood, in 18th/19th Century France as well as the proceeding history of poster art.  For the first time, art was not only meant to be seen by the exclusive inner circle of the Academie, but for everyone existing on the streets of Paris. Of course, Cheret and Toulouse-Lautrec and the integrity of their work was openly criticized by the Academie because of its technique and materials, its multiplicity and purpose, and the nature of its subject.

Going hand-in-hand with his poster commissions, Toulouse-Lautrec is known for his documentation of the cabarets and cafe life itself.  Being born into an aristocratic family, Toulouse-Lautrec had the means to live a comfortable financial life. Yet, his stunted growth and handicap caused by two successive broken legs in childhood kept him an outsider to the sportsman, upper class lifestyle his father led; which left him to mingle with the prostitutes he turned to for affection and the fellow drinkers and patrons of the cabarets he attended. All of which he captured in his evocative drawings and paintings.  He, amongst peer artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, experienced cafe life by embracing the scenes he lived in as subject matter outside a formal institutional environment- again taking power away from the Academie.


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