A wonderful exhibit simply titled “Posters of Paris” is about to wrap up its Dallas visit, so of course, I had to check it out before it leaves town.  So much material was on display that a single post wouldn’t do the exhibit justice, so I have created a series of stories.  Here we go.  The collection includes works from Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, including this 1891 advertisement for that famous Parisian cabaret, a work that elevated posters to a fine art form, as well as several of his contemporaries such as Jules Chéret.


Color had become very popular in Paris by this time, but until the 1860s, posters consisted of one color, other than white, and the printed word.  Not very eye-catching, to say the least.


In 1869, the world of outdoor advertising became far more colorful thanks to Jules Chéret and his innovative “three stone” lithographic process.  This poster for the Frascati dancehall was twice the normal size, using two posters instead of the usual one.


Now, artists could create vibrant, full color images by combining three colors–usually red, yellow, and blue–instead of the previous limitation to one or two.  While still a difficult process, the results were captivating.  Note: Gabriel Morris created the iconic Morris column in 1850 specifically for poster display.


By this time, the Art Nouveau style was quickly gaining popularity.  When the American dancer, Loïe Fuller, prepared to make her Paris debut in 1893, she commissioned Chéret to design posters promoting the event.  Hers was not the first poster by Chéret to feature a woman. Oh la la!


Chéret used few figurative forms, but his posters invariably featured women.  Both elegant and lively, yet seen engaging in previously taboo activities, this image of freedom became so popular among the Parisian women who adopted it that they became known as Cherettes.  In addition to being widely regarded as the father of the modern poster, Chéret is also considered by many to be the father of women’s liberation.


This 1875 sketch for a poster advertised performances at a small garden pavilion named L’Horlage.  In it, the mischievous-looking waiter plays host to the lively beauties Chéret is known for.  Credit for the introduction of women into advertising also belongs to Chéret.

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”–Aristotle

3 thoughts on “Posters of Paris

  1. Brian

    Those really are some beautiful posters! I wonder if in 100 years people will look back at any of the posters of today with the same admiration. Thanks for sharing!!


  2. Pingback: » It was all Haussmann’s idea, but… French Cravings

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