A revolt from the Paris Academy of the mid-19th century, Art Nouveau delighted in the curviness of natural forms and the florid ornamentation of wild gardens. An idea of the world across all arts, Art Nouveau differentiated itself among purposes and nations and schools of thought, but with one unifying principle: a fusion of elegance and wildness. It overwhelmed the popular arts in Europe from 1890 to 1910.
38 5/8 x 55 3/8 in./98 x 140.7 cm
Thiriet’s posters are few, but all are excellent. “This is yet another example of the Art Nouveau poster at its stylized best. The composition has been meticulously—almost geometrically—arranged, and the influence of mythology, in both the Greek name for the bicycle brand of Kreutzberger and the winged goddess, plus the bold use of flat and vibrant colors emphasize this. The Omega is chainless (“Sans Chaine”) even though continuous-chain-driven bicycles were being produced at this time. It worked by means of bevel gears” (Bicycle Posters, p. 9).
37 1/2 x 50 1/8 in./95.4 x 127.4 cm
When it was founded in 1816, the Menier Company sold and manufactured a variety of pharmaceutical products, chocolate being one of them. It wasn’t until 1830 that their chocolate went beyond coating bitter pills and perking up powders, and was sold as an individual bar, wrapped in the same sunshine yellow of this poster’s background. Their chocolate bar became so popular that by the middle of the century focus had shifted entirely to its production. As the company expanded, they commissioned Bouisset to design this, and many subsequent posters—it became one of the most instantly-recognizable advertisements, taking on a variety of forms over the years, yet always utilizing a little girl scrawling the company name with a piece of chocolate on a wall. This is a rare version without the standard red umbrella at left.
24 1/4 x 31 1/4 in./61 x 79.2 cm
Bonnard’s best-known and most enigmatic poster advertises the monthly La Revue Blanche, published by his close friends the Natansons. The significance of this image eludes us today and seems not to have been all that clear when published. Maindron admitted that he could not understand it, but found that “nonetheless it’s quite curious.” Bouvet attempts an analysis: “The strange form [at right] apparently following the young woman, is in fact a man, seen from behind, an opera hat on his head and coat collar turned up, reading the poster for the Revue on the wall” (p. 30). The design itself is quite ahead of its time, creating a geometric pattern out of other posters for the publication, while simultaneously contrasting the sassy pose and voluptuous costume of the female reader against the grisly nature of the street urchin-cum-newsie to her right.
32 x 25 in./81.3 x 63.6 cm
This is possibly the rarest and definitely the most fully expressive of the few posters by this noted symbolist painter and occasional graphic designer—this variant is even more special, as it predates versions with letters included. “The lady pointing to one of the items available from print and poster dealer Pierrefort is one of De Feure’s most enigmatic women: her face is alluring yet inscrutable, with a touch of slyness or private amusement: Is she mocking us, or simply being ambiguous?” (Wine Spectator, p. 89). Millman calls this “his most Japanese-influenced poster” (De Feure, p. 76). Pierrefort, along with Sagot and Arnould, was one of the most important poster and print dealers of Paris in the 1890s who often befriended promising graphic artists whose work he savored. Three of these protégés created posters for his gallery: Henri-Gabriel Ibels (see PAI-XIX, 371), P. H. Lobel (see PAI-IX, 336), and De Feure. Pierrefort was especially close to Toulouse-Lautrec, whose work he published and exhibited toward the end of the painter’s short career.
33 3/4 x 47 3/4 in./85.7 x 121.4 cm
Subtle it isn’t. Then again, if anyone was looking for subtlety in advertising they surely wouldn’t have hired Grün. An altogether arresting design—humorous, seductive, and rather openly sapphic for a revue at La Cigale—seen here with text that announced its rather suggestive title: “‘Are you coming?’ ‘T’y viens-t-y?’ is ample proof that the Belle Epoque sauciness remained a preferred theme. A beauty—as always buxom and with an ample décolleté (a mere strap, possibly required by the censors, hides her nipple) is about to be led away by some kind of a disguised Pierrot. A chubby policeman (a transvestite?) who is trampling a passerby seems to enjoy the sight. The scene is complete with the Moulin de la Galette and an April moon in the background. Oh! Montmartre!” (Grün, p. 52). This is the larger format.
24 3/8 x 18 in./62 x 45.6 cm
This sumptuous Art Nouveau lithograph is quite the unique piece from Orazi: the refined, almost gauzy details of the background and woman’s face give way to his breathtaking line work and ravishing blue-green hues. Note the detail in the orchid petals, and the transition from gold to cyan strands that provide a glowing effect. This print was included in the Lithographies Originales publication (see De Feure’s posters for it, Nos. 215 and 216), where it was titled “Fantaisie;” we’ve also seen it titled “Femme aux Orchidées (Nymph with Orchids).” In any case, it’s a sublime image.
35 3/4 x 51 1/4 in./91 x 130 cm
Pal created a total of five posters for Fuller’s appearances at the Folies-Bergère. Here, the billowing folds of her diaphonous dress are rendered in flaming orange, adding considerably to the light-and-motion image with which we are presented.
13 1/4 x 19 3/4 in./33.5 x 50.2 cm
Parrish illustrated many magazines—Scribner’s, Collier’s, Success, Lippincott’s—and every now and then, he executed posters for them, conceived more or less as covers, and of approximately the same size. This design of a woman nakedly lost in thought earned him second prize in The Century poster contest of 1897, as noted at the bottom of the poster.
13 1/4 x 17 1/2 in./33.5 x 44.4 cm
Toussaint created posters as well as portraits, and this is decidedly his best one. The design’s rich colors and strong contrasts do for coffee what Mucha’s tousled hair did for cigarette rolling papers. Barely touching her cup and saucer, the serene woman stares curiously at the steaming beverage. Her dress curls into the walls, her hair into the lettering, creating an overall sense of warmth and dreaminess. Hats—outlandish or merely fashionable—feature prominently in all his paintings. This is the extremely rare smaller format, used as an indoor display.
16 1/2 x 23 1/4 in./42 x 59 cm
Both an important figure in the history of Modern art as well as a staple of bohemian society at the turn of the century, Villon dabbled in everything from Cubism to illustration to printmaking. Creating only about six posters in his lifetime, they stand out from the rest of his oeuvre, showcasing a graceful drawing style and sensitive expression of character. In this exceptionally rare image by the artist, we catch an auburn-haired sophisticate in the midst of primping herself. Seated before her morning toilet, she is putting on the finishing touches to her look before facing the world. Despite all this detail, the actual product being advertised remains a mystery—the term “anti-bélier” has no known meaning that would match the image (today, it is used to describe a very specific type of plumbing). This leaves us to speculate that it is either a hair detangler (“bélier” is a wool-bearing mammal, similar to a sheep, which was often compared to unruly hair), or possibly even the atomizer before her (the word “atomizer” did not yet exist, but, as mentioned, the term used here is a type of pump). Despite the ambiguous product, the poster itself is simply exquisite, and a gorgeous homage to beauty for beauty’s sake.
In-gallery viewing February 8 to 23 (daily 11am-6pm)