Poster masters at IPG through June

BOSTON — Newbury Street’s International Poster Gallery announces “Pioneers of Modernism: Poster Masters of the 20th Century,” a revealing look at how pioneering artists changed the rules of poster making throughout the century. The exhibition of 35 groundbreaking poster designs is now on view and runs through June 2010. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. The Gallery is located at 205 Newbury Street in Boston. Call 617-375-0076 or visit www.internationalposter.com for information.

The exhibition is arranged chronologically, with highlights selected from four eras: the early Modernist period from the turn of the century to the early 1920s; the Art Deco style from the mid-1920s to WWII; the Mid-Century period of the 1950s and 1960s; and the Postmodern period from the late 1960s to the 1990s.

The show begins with some of the major designers who challenged the floral and organic Art Nouveau style of the 19th century. One highlight is Otto Morach’s “Swiss Artist Exhibition” of 1918, which was the first truly designed typographic poster made in Switzerland. Utterly simple and elegant, its sensuous letterforms are reminiscent of the pioneering Modernism of the Vienna Secession, while its restricted palette and chalky textures resonate with depth and warmth. Morach was the prototypical Swiss designer — trained in mathematics, he turned to painting and studied in Paris, Switzerland and Germany. He only designed a handful of posters, but each one is imbued with a Modernist spirit that still inspires. All of the elements in Morach’s work would become hallmarks of Swiss graphic design.

The show is replete with other fine examples of early Modernism. It includes an excellent example of “Die Flache,” a rare decorative arts portfolio consisting of 32 plates by the leading artists of the Vienna Secession. “Die Flache’s” bold geometry and abstraction reveal a clear break with Art Nouveau.

The Art Deco style is represented by fine examples from all over Europe. One of the best is Frank Newbould’s “Air Mail.” Streamlined and geometric, pared down to its essentials, it expresses the speed, power and scale of modern technology. Newbould was a leading posterist in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s, with Edward McKnight Kauffer and Tom Purvis.

France is represented by AM Cassandre’s “Heemaf,” as well as Paul Colin’s “Lisa Duncan.” Munetsugu Satomi, who worked with Cassandre in Paris, is represented by his streamlined poster for the Japanese Railways. Hungary’s Aladar Richter’s work for Modiano reveals the wide influence of Art Deco style. The avant garde style of Fascist Italy is represented by Federico Seneca’s “Pastina Glutinata.” Herbert Matter’s early photomontage Swiss travel poster “All Roads Lead to Switzerland” is a final selection for this part of the show.

The Mid-Century period saw the rapid rise of the so-called “Swiss Style,” which was based on clarity, order, readable type and photographic images. This part of the exhibition features works by leading Swiss artists such as Armin Hofmann, Mueller Brockmann, and Herbert Leupin.

In addition to gallery shows and special exhibitions, IPG’s award-winning website, www.internationalposter.com, offers the largest, most comprehensive online collection of vintage advertising posters in the world. Launched in 1998, the site now contains nearly 4,500 images accessible through a powerful search engine. ?

Read "Art Markets: World War I poster art rooted in propaganda"


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