Poster History

120 Years of Swiss and International Poster Art

The event that paved the way for the development of the poster as an art form was the invention of lithography around 1800. By the end of the 19th century, French artists were integrating stylistic elements from Japanese woodcuts into their work. The first posters to appear from Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Pierre Bonnard and Felix Valloton garnered widespread praise from art critics and connoisseurs alike.

The Origins of the Poster and Early History up to the Turn of the 20th Century

The origins of the modern picture poster are strongly connected to the development of modern society. The industrial revolution created new economic needs that necessitated mass production and marketing of new consumer goods and promotion of travel destinations.

European Poster History: 19th and 20th Century

The first poster by an artist that counts among the outstanding poster works of the 19th century was an 1868 lithograph by Edouard Manet that advertised the book Les Chats by the art critic Jules Champfleury in France. Literature, again, was the theme of the second successful artist poster: in 1871 a huge woodcut by Fred Walker announced the stage adaptation of Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White in London.

The Dawn of Swiss Poster History

In Switzerland, as in Germany, the image poster had established itself by 1900. Commissions for artistic advertisements only started to be made at the end of the 19th century in Switzerland. Before, the poster was merely a means to announce a message, usually in the form of a hand-typeset notice poster in letterpress printing technique.

Swiss Poster Artists

The Swiss Artist Poster, characterised by the monumentalistic style of Hodler with clearly bordered forms, was the precondition for the emergence of works by the first poster designers such as Cuno Amiet, Burkhard Mangold, Plinio Colombi and Emil Cardinaux.