L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters features approximately 50 posters by the five grand masters of the medium: Jules Chéret, Eugène Grasset, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Alphonse Mucha. The posters date from 1875 to 1910, the exuberant era in France known as the Belle Époque. These pioneering artists reigned in Paris during this period of artistic proliferation, defining a never-before-seen, and never forgotten, art form.
Bright and bold and found everywhere along the boulevards of fin-de-siècle Paris, the color poster was a brilliant fusion of art and commerce. It advertised cigarette papers and milk, immortalized stage stars and bohemian cabarets, and won the adoration of passersby and art collectors. Subject as it was to wind, rain, and being covered up by posters from rival firms, the ephemeral poster nonetheless became the subject of passionate collecting in its own time. The poster craze, known as affichomanie, revolved around the acquisition of these posters, from buying and selling special editions to stealthy removals from walls and kiosks.
Drawn from the Driehaus Collection of Fine and Decorative Arts, the posters on view feature such iconic images as Steinlen’s Le Chat Noir and Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge: La Goulue. Each of the five artists will be featured in one of the period galleries in the Museum, allowing guests to explore the artists’ individual style and compare them with their contemporaries.