When modernity “shouted” from the posters on the walls

The great names of the golden age of advertising posters, such as Jules Chéret, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Ramon Casas or Alexandre de Riquer are mentioned in the new CaixaForum Girona exhibition. The showroom opens the season with Posters of modern life. The origins of the billboard, an exhibition dedicated to the splendor of the art of advertising in the transition between the 19th and 20th centuries that can be visited until next February 26.

The exhibition, curated by Ricard Bru, analyzes how around 1900 the advertising poster became a work of art and at the same time a powerful means of mass communicationliving reflection of the social, cultural and aesthetic transformation of its time and, therefore, an emblem of modernity.

All in all, they can be seen there 109 works by artists such as Joaquim Sorolla, Santiago Rusiñol, Pablo Picasso, Jon Hassal or Théophile A. Steinlenauthors who knew how to capture with flat colors and unique compositions the great changes in society of their time, such as industrialization, consumption, mass culture or the booms of tourism.

Constructed from a selection of the valuable historical collection of posters of the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC), it is complemented by loans from other centers and public and private collections, such as the Marc Martí Collection or the Cinema Museum of Girona.

The origin of the exhibition, explains its curator, is the desire to spread “a little-known part of the MNAC’s collection, with important pieces that have never been exhibited, both due to the state of conservation and the museum’s discourse ». Bru, however, wanted to “go beyond the classic exhibition, with a historical collection of great names in European poster art” to elaborate “a transversal discourse” that shows how posters are a mirror of social, aesthetic and customs changes of the turn of the century and the languages ​​they used, “to see how far did all this modernity go”.

And it is that, at a time when the poster flooded the big European and American cities to announce all kinds of products, venues or shows, important painters and illustrators signed up to make posters. This, added to the development of new lithographic reproduction techniques, contributed to the emergence of advertisements of high artistic quality.

Thus, explains Ricard Bru, if the poster is understood as “screams stuck to the walls” that seek to attract attention, artists strove to “shout above the rest”, seeking originality through colors, typography or elements such as the female image converted into advertising.

The exhibition has been conceived as “a transversal panorama” that eschews chronology to focus on seven thematic areas, ranging from the presentation of the lithography technique to the role of women as an object of advertising attraction, the influence of the Japanese print on the modern poster or the importance of the periodical press, the cult of fashion, shows, tobacco or alcohol.

Restoration of unpublished pieces

The exhibition is the result of an alliance that the La Caixa Foundation and the MNAC have maintained for years and that has materialized in several exhibitions. This collaboration has allowed, explains the director of the Exhibitions and Collection Area of ​​the La Caixa Foundation, Isabel Salgado, the restoration of 56 posters included in the exhibition, both from the MNAC itself and from other collections, some of which are completely unpublished.

The exhibition is complemented by activities “for all types of public”, according to the director of CaixaForum Girona, Anna Colomer. One particularly stands out is the Seduction Games cycle of visual arts: the advertising art of modernity, but there are also guided tours, family tours and for the school public.

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