Get a taste of 19th-Century France at the Driehaus Museum’s latest exhibit “L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters.”
During the Belle Époque, the boulevards of Paris were plastered with colorful posters advertising everything from milk, cabarets, and theater stars. These posters caught the attention of art collectors creating affichomanie, which is French for poster mania. At “L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters” visitors will see 50 posters created by five of the masters of the French poster: Jules Chéret, Eugène Grasset, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Alphonse Mucha.
As you walk through the exhibit on the second and third floor of the Driehaus Museum, the posters range from almost life size to book size, and although they may be over 100 years old the colors remain vivid and the details sharp. Chéret is known as the father of the artistic poster for using chromolithography, which was used to create reproductions of masterpieces, to create original pieces. His posters contain what became to known as Cherettes, elegant and playful Parisian women, that were captured in bold colors and in powerful movements. Grasset’s work was much smaller—sometimes being featured on menu cards—and his imagery called back to Medieval times. Steinlen is the artist behind the iconic “Le Chat Noir” poster advertising the cabaret in the Montmartre district of Paris. His work is the most prolific with thousands of prints being produced in his 40-year career. Mucha’s posters feel like posters out of a Wes Anderson film with its color gradients. It’s easy to see how his posters of the legendary Sarah Bernhardt’s performances helped fill seats with the arresting poses and subtle colors. Toulouse-Lautrec captured Paris’ rowdy nightlife best seen in his advertisement of the popular Moulin Rouge.
In addition to getting to see the posters, make sure to take advantage and take some selfies in front of the life-size Steinlen poster.
“L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters” is on view at the Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie St, through Jan. 8, 2018. For more information visit driehausmuseum.org/laffichomania.