History of Graphic Design: Art Nouveau Poster Design

The Graphic design lecture was always going to be one i found interesting, being that it’s my chosen subject it would be odd if i didn’t. It was great to get to see the influence Graphic Design has had within history and all the different movements and changes it has gone through over the years. However what really stood out to me in the lecture was the poster design that came from the art nouveau period with designers like Alfons Mucha, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Jules Cheret opening a new world of poster design.

The art nouveau movement saw all designers starting to look to nature for inspiration, creating works with an organic, flowing style to them. Whether it was architecture or furniture, during the 1980s everything was being influenced by art nouveau and Graphic Design was no exception. The origins of this movement can be traced back to Graphic design when Alfons Mucha was commissioned to create a poster for the famous actress Sarah Bernhardt. The poster was an overnight success and the naturalistic style of art nouveau started to spread like wild fire. It is believed that this was one of the earliest examples of modernist design.


Two other influential designers from this period were Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Jules Cheret, two designers who although came from the same movement had very distinct styles. Lautrec would often use block colour in his pieces and keep a limited colour palette consisting of darker colours. The figures featured in is poster would usually be stylised, using thick lines to give them details. Cheret on the other hand would often use very bright colours in his work and his style was much more fluent than Lautrec’s using various brush stokes to create the sense of movement.


I must admit that although the posters themselves are undoubtedly successful and beautiful works of design it is not the posters that I really enjoy but the style and way they have been made, especially the posters created by Mucha. I’ve never seen or known i was looking at examples of lithography but from seeing the results that were produced by Mucha I am very keen to give it a try. His combination of naturalist painting and his unique use of a bold outline around the figure or patterns within the piece make the image amazingly striking. If this is this is the result lithography I need to give it a try as it looks brilliant.  Image


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