Leonetto Cappiello (1875-1942) is known as the “father of modern advertising” for his revolutionary vision of the promotional poster. Though he studied under the great Jules Chéret at the printing house Vercasson, he eventually broke away from the established aesthetic spawned by the Impressionists and developed his own style: flat backgrounds, bold and saturated hues, and animated scenes that nearly burst off the page.
Cappiello’s very first poster: a carefree, saucy, and effervescent introduction to the inaugural issue of Le Frou Frou, a humor magazine named after the noise a woman’s skirt makes while rustling in the wind. Cappiello got the commission for the first issue; however, Weiluc’s treatment (see no. 515) is the more famous.
“It is with this poster… that Cappiello firmly established himself as the master of the modern poster—if not modern advertising itself. He begins to slowly distance himself from caricature, not only in preoccupation but also in its form. With a newfound flamboyance of style and imagination, the artist pursued the posterist’s goal with a clarity and purpose that was to set him apart from all his colleagues. With this poster, Cappiello declared a new freedom from the restrictions and limitations of the previous realist and idealized realist renderings” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 66). This image of a green lady riding a red horse was so jarring to the public eye that few could forget it; therefore, the company chose to continue using it as its permanent logo from then on.
This design for an unknown magazine is so rare that it does not even appear in Cappiello’s catalogue raisonné—or anywhere else that we can find, for that matter. We therefore only know that issues are released every Thursday, it is purportedly a “colossal success,” and it’s rare!
“The pink-and-magenta crane takes aim with its spear-like beak at the XÉREZ-QUINA-RUIZ apéritif glass at the heart of a target created by water rippling away from it. Xérez (today spelled Jerez) is located near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, whose delta attracts many storks and other water birds from Africa, hence Cappiello’s choice of subject is not only eye-catching, but bears some relevance to the product being promoted” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 87). Rare!
“The symbolic female Bacchus supplies the wine, while her escort the song, even throwing in a jig for good measure. They represent the entertainment portion of the program planned for the Fêtes du Congrès International des Étudiants, the International Students’ Congress soirée, set for Bordeaux in September 1907. It’s surely one of the most joyous of Cappiello’s posters” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 107).
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In-gallery viewing October 11 to 26 (daily 11am-6pm)