In Exhibitions, Museum of Art

Take a walk back in time to turn-of-the-century France with this new MOA exhibit

“Zodiac” by Alphonse Mucha

Bold lines, dramatic poses and rich colors define the French posters of the belle époque in the late 1800s, from their depiction of fashionable dress to new inventions to entertainment. While over 125 years have passed since then, patrons of the Museum of Art can take a stroll down a Parisian street with the upcoming exhibit “L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters.” 

Organized by The Richard H. Driehaus Museum in Chicago, “L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters” is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington DC and will be a temporary display at the MOA.

“Le Journal/La Traite des Blanches” by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen

Phillipp Malzl, the educator for this exhibit, said he is “eager for our patrons to be

 delighted by the colorful, diverse and compelling poster designs of these great masters of the medium.” Artists whose work will be on display include Jules Chéret, Eugène Grasset, Alphonse Mucha, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

These posters provide a rare glimpse into the daily life of Parisians near the end of the nineteenth century — their leisurely pursuits, their inventions, as well as their various forms of popular entertainment,” said Malzl.

Visitors can look forward to walking through an exhibit designed to mimic a Parisian street during the 1890s. 

“Our in-house designers and fabricators certainly have done their part to create a spectacular space that looks and feels as if you’re on the streets of Paris!” Malzl said, adding that the structure allows visitors to “experience their [the posters’] impact as if they were walking the streets of Paris during the 1890s.”

“Motocycles Comiot” by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen

Some careful visitors may also notice similarities between modern design practices and the designs of the posters. 

“These posters still look timely and persuasive after 125 years,” Malzl noted. “Modern-day designers are still indebted to these original pioneers of poster design. Their various influences — Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau and Japanese design aesthetics — have remained staples of Western design and continue to attract the modern eye.”

“Salon des Cent” by Eugène Grasset

Though the display will be a veritable feast for the eyes, Malzl observed that the posters will also give the viewers a glimpse into some of the complications of the period in which they were created. 

[The posters] attest of a city that loved life, light and spectacle [above] all else,” he said. “Upon closer examination, however, one will also be confronted with the societal, cultural and political complexities of the period.”

On display at the MOA starting September 3, “L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters” is sure to delight patrons with its vibrant colors and striking lines. Don’t miss out on this stroll down a Parisian lane!

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