San Antonio, TX
For nearly 200 years the combination of imagery and text found on posters has served to advertise performances, goods and services, as well as political viewpoints. Mass-produced, using modern lithographic processes, posters originally had little or no value. They spurred the public’s interest before being discarded. Fortunately, some collectors saw the artistic value in these bits of ephemera that would otherwise have been lost and began preserving them.
The McNay is fortunate to have a small number of these works ranging from Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters promoting the cabaret appearances of the great 1890s Parisian stage impresario Aristide Bruant to Ben Shahn’s heartbreaking work which sought to open the eyes of the world to the atrocities of the Nazi regime in the 1940s.
The visual language of the poster has had a great influence on the art of the twentieth century and up to the present day, as seen in the works of Shepard Fairey which are also featured in the show. Other artists included are Alphonse Mucha, Pierre Bonnard, Joan Miro, and Angel Bracho.
A highlight of the exhibition is Charles Gesmar’s Mistinguett, which features an Art Deco portrait of the highest paid singer and actress of the 1920s. This recently acquired poster, one of the largest prints ever produced, is over ten feet tall.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website