Posters of Paris

You can experience fin-de-siecle Paris by visiting the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) this summer. Its exhibit, Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and His Contemporaries, celebrates the brightly colored advertisements by Pierre Bonnard, Jules Cheret, Edouard Vuillard, and Alphonse Mucha that graced the city at the turn of the twentieth century.

Bonnard-FranceChampagne.jpgPierre Bonnard, (French, 1867-1947), France-Champagne, 1889-1891. Color lithograph. Restricted gift of Dr. and Mrs. Martin L. Gecht, 1991.218, The Art Institute of Chicago. Image courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago.

Paris was plastered with paper -- creating what MAM refers to as an outdoor museum for the masses. The posters themselves were "objects of intense fascination, even mania, and a new term was invented to describe it: affichomanie (poster mania). They were so popular that collectors stole them from billboards almost as soon as they were pasted up..." The posters remain popular to collectors today, filling vintage poster auctions at Swann Galleries and Christie's and cropping up at Heritage Auctions too.

Cheret-LHorloge.jpgJules Chéret, (French, 1836-1932), L'Horloge: Les Girard, 1875/1878 or 1880/1881. Color lithograph. Collection of Jim and Sue Wiechmann. Photo by John R. Glembin.

The exhibit runs through September 9, 2012 and then heads to the Dallas Museum of Art from Oct. 14, 2012-Jan. 20, 2013.