Poster design- Art Nouveau to Art Deco

In my art history course, I was asked to compare posters from the art nouveau and art deco movements

This was the result.

In contrast to the prudery and hypocrisy of the Victorians towards the female form, Art Nouveau celebrated the body in its use of curvilinear forms, loose flowing hair and diaphanous clothing. Little wonder it was looked upon as shocking and decadent. Leading poster artist, Alphonse Mucha, utilised this new found freedom. He believed that through the creation of beautiful works of art, life could also be transformed. This seems idealistic until we see its use in the more practical posters.

Leading poster artist, Alphonse Mucha, utilised this new found freedom. He believed that through the creation of beautiful works of art, life could also be transformed. This seems idealistic until we see its use in the more practical posters.

The example here, Gismonda, advertised an 1894 play, starring and directed by Sarah Bernhardt. Her Byzantine costume is perfect for this look-exotic, vibrant and colourful. The figure is placed in a stage and the elongated body,draped in this magnificent costume reveals her beauty and the nobility of her character. The lettering, too, is elongated and curvaceous with each letter holding its own space. The colour palette reflects the opulence of the Byzantine era, golds and blues dominate. Bernhardt holds a palm leaf in her hand, symbolising victory and the bearing of the character reflects that strength.

The lettering, too, is elongated and curvaceous with each letter holding its own space. The colour palette reflects the opulence of the Byzantine era, golds and blues dominate. Bernhardt holds a palm leaf in her hand, symbolising victory and the bearing of the character reflects that strength.

In contrast, the Cassandra poster, advertising the Nord Express is cold, sleek and has the elements of the futuristic style to come. While Mucha was just starting out with his career, Cassandra was already one of the great poster designers of the 20th century. His posters were celebrating the machine age and new modes of transport. The steely coloured palette was emphasised through the use of airbrushes and stencils which gave the crisp outlines needed to emphasise the cool glamour of the new trains.

To advertise the company, like Mucha, Cassandra created his own typeface,only using capital letters, making it visible from a distance and this was an integral part of the whole design.

While Mucha was just starting out with his career, Cassandra was already one of the great poster designers of the 20th century. His posters were celebrating the machine age and new modes of transport. The steely coloured palette was emphasised through the use of airbrushes and stencils which gave the crisp outlines needed to emphasise the cool glamour of the new trains.

To advertise the company, like Mucha, Cassandra created his own typeface,only using capital letters, making it visible from a distance and this was an integral part of the whole design.

For the first time, posters became desirable as a collectable art form. Mucha, in particular, found that his posters were torn down as quickly as they were stuck up.

Works consulted:

http://www.muchafoundation.org/gallery/search-works/display/results/object/21

http://www.artyfactory.com/art_appreciation/graphic_designers/cassandre.htm