Author(s): Jeannine Falino
Bright and bold and found everywhere in fin-de-sia cle Paris, the poster was a brilliant fusion of art and commerce. New printing methods made it possible to distribute and post vivid full-color prints, spurring both artists and advertisers to take advantage of these public canvases. During its golden age in Paris, the poster was acclaimed for enlivening city streets, even as it was decried for its raucous colors, overt commodification, sexualized female figures, and oversized imagery. Collectors raced to snap up these ephemeral art pieces, sparking a frenzied demand dubbed affichomania, complete with its own experts and specialized publications containing small-scale prints for the home.L'Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters is a lavishly illustrated collection of these posters focusing on the work of five masters: Jules Cheret, the acknowledged founder of the field, Eugane Grasset, Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Alphonse Mucha, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. All are drawn from the collection of Richard H. Driehaus. With rising auction prices and the popularity of modern reprints, it is clear that affichomania is here to stay.
Jeannine Falino, formerly curator of decorative arts and sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is now an independent curator specializing in decorative arts. Her books include Crafting Modernism: Midcentury American Art and Design and American Luxury: Jewels from the House of Tiffany.