Winter 2004

Early commercial posters [EXTRACT]

Cappiello: The Posters of Leonetto Cappiello

By Jack Rennert
The Poster Art Library, USD80

You will not see many designers today borrowing Cappiello’s illustrative method because, unlike Constructivism or the Bauhaus, this work does not have a cool machine-age veneer. Yet at the dawn of mass marketing, Cappiello made radical advertising. This 336-page book by gallery owner Jack Rennert, which features many of Cappiello’s over one thousand designs, establishes its historical and commercial value today on a par with Cheret and Cassandre.

Italian-born Cappiello, who produced the majority of his work in Paris from 1898 to 1936, always focused on a single image – usually a mascot of some kind – accompanied by a line of hand-drawn type, usually a brand name. He once said that colour ‘makes us notice’, while action ‘makes us remember’.

Cappiello began as a caricaturist, perfecting a fluid line that captured simplified likenesses, a bridge between the Art Nouveau and Impressionist styles that dominated European advertising. [...]

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