Author : MUCHA Alfons (1860 - 1939)
Creation date : 1898
Dimensions: Height 150 - Width 101
Technique and other indications: Color lithograph
Storage location: Website advertising museum
Contact copyright: © Musée de la Publicité, Paris - All rights reserved
Picture reference: JOB12443.1
© Musée de la Publicité, Paris - All rights reserved
Publication date: May 2006
1850, the poster is displayed
If the poster made its appearance in the XVe century, soon after the invention of the printing press, it was used primarily by the authorities as a media of information. In the middle of the XIXe century, the industrial revolution, increasing urbanization and the improvement of production techniques provide the modern poster with its raison d'être. The "advertisement" invaded the walls of cities, and the poster became a leading medium to extol the merits of the most diverse products. The great houses of the time such as the Lefèvre-Utile biscuit factories - manufacturers of the already famous "Petit-Beurre LU" - or Nestlé, Ruinart champagnes, Rémy Martin cognacs and spirits called on poster designers. Mobile displays are also growing, with the cab and the man-sandwich crisscrossing the city.
Alfons Mucha, who came out of anonymity in 1894 thanks to the realization of the poster "Gismonda" for Sarah Bernhardt, is an employee of the printer Champenois, one of the largest houses of the period 1880-1910, which was notably originally decorative panels.
This poster (1898) is the second Mucha made for the Job cigarette paper brand. The first dates from 1896. Inspired here by one of the sibyls in the fresco painted by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, he places the young woman at the center of his composition and inscribes her in a circle which frames her in the 'picture. She wears a dress with complicated folds, which bares the top of her bust and part of her left leg. Beautiful, languid, bewitching and airy, the "Mucha woman" is all about curves and arabesques. Very representative of the graphic vocabulary developed by the artist, the curls of her abundant hair are sensually wrapped around her body. With a virtuoso brush, Mucha enriches his subject with long tendrils and volutes, a typical effect that some critics will then ironically qualify as "macaroni" style. True object of desire, the woman is set up as a machine for sale. Mucha works on the three letters of the Job brand until it becomes a decorative element. Therefore very refined, it appears discreetly in poster background and on the case of cigarette paper. With the brooch that sensually adorns the young woman's dress, it even reaches the rank of full jewel. The brand name thus treated fits subtly into the artist's work.
Thanks to the low price of posters and decorative panels, which were printed in large numbers, all sections of Belle Époque society could acquire them. Their wide distribution owes a lot to chromolithography, a process which enables images to be reproduced, in color and in a short time. The advertising poster therefore becomes a work of art accessible to all: "I was happy to have engaged in an art intended for the people and not for closed salons. It was cheap, accessible to everyone, and found its place in poor families as well as in wealthy ones, ”explains Mucha. The more expensive editions will be printed on satin, vellum or japan, but buyers can also purchase posters printed in eight colors, which are less expensive, or on cardboard. From then on art came into life and many collectors flocked to posters: the writer Octave Uzanne gave this craze the name of “posteromania”, which appeared in the 1880s. Diverted from their primary function, the Posters are often sold by gallery owners or collectors who don't hesitate to bribe poster tackers to get the latest news. A major event organized by Ernest Maindron, the first poster historian, was held in Paris during the Universal Exhibition of 1889.
The popularity of the poster spurred several publications such as The Poster in 1891, The Print and the Poster in 1897 as well as The French Courier which publishes posters in reduced format. Under the impetus of Champenois, Mucha's art is available on a multitude of media: decorative panels, illustrated calendars, postcards, vignettes, theater programs, menus ... But the frantic pace imposed on him by the printer turns out to be harmful to his creativity. Mucha is soon content to vary attitudes, gestures, faces, but no longer manages to truly renew himself. This overabundance, this mass edition, ended up boring the public who, shortly before 1900, lost interest in this advertising art. In the end, the craze only lasted about thirty years. After a decade of creating posters, Mucha made the friezes for the Bosnian Pavilion, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, then he left for the United States and worked on a project that was important to him. heart for a long time: the painting of his immense "Slavic Epic", fresco in twenty tables which relates the history of the Slavic peoples.
- Art Nouveau
Alain WEILL, The French Poster, Paris, PUF, 1982.Alain WEILL, Art Deco Posters, Paris, Inter-livres, 1990. Affichomania: collectors of posters, collectors' posters, 1880-1900, catalog of the exhibition at the Musée de l'Affiche, 22 January-5 May 1980, Paris, Musée de l'Affiche, 1980 Art & advertising: Art & publicity 1890-1990, catalog of the exhibition at the Musée national d'Art moderne, 31 October 1990 - February 25, 1991, Paris, Ed. of the Center Georges-Pompidou, 1990.
To cite this article
Isabelle COURTY, "Mucha, champion of the new advertising poster"