Yesterday, I made the easy trip to Milwaukee Wisconsin and paid a visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM). The museum itself is spectacular! This unique structure is the work of Eero Saarinen who designed the War Memorial Center and of Santiago Calatrava who designed the Quadracci Pavillion, an exhibition space like nothing else. It is a huge, elegant white construction, a cross between the prow of a ship and a soaring seagull overlooking Lake Michigan. For me, worth a trip in itself.
But I had another reason to pay a visit. The Museum now has a poster exhibition, Posters of Paris Toulouse Lautrec & His Contemporaries. Unfortunately, this exhibition will on be at the museum through this weekend but then it is scheduled to move to The Dallas Museum.
The exhibition has captured Paris in the 1890′s, the Fin de Siecle, an era when Paris became an open air museum of fantastic posters. Positive energy emanating from bold, playful and joyous filled the streets. Affichomanie, Poster Mania thrived! Posters were ripped from billboards and kiosques and sold. This phenomon gaverise to the Maitres de l”Affiche series, a way in which people smaller sized posters better suited for collections.
The Museum has not only examples of the posters but also photographs of the Parisian Boulevards. There was a huge 6 panel poster, a reflection of what the crowds admiring the posters looked like. There were many examples of the stages that the poster artists would go through to arrive at their finished work and even samples of the metalics used by Mucha. Interestingly, some posters were actually considered too risque even by Parisian standards and there are over-lays to illustrate how the poster may have been originally intended and how the body was later draped for public eyes.
So then I think of some of my favorite poster artists and favorite posters from this era. The women of Mucha are so elegantly beautiful. Slavia comes right to mind. And Lautrec, his characters are complicated, so much more than meets the eye. Le Divan Japonais, now what were those people thinking?! Personally, I love Cheret. His women embody a zest for life! The women in his poster, Concert des Ambassadeurs are having a ball! And then there is that beautiful poster for Massenet’s operetta, Cendrillon. Love it!
If you do have time and are in the area in the next few days, I so highly recommend a trip to the Milwaukee Art Musem. If not, perhaps a trip to Dallas is in your future?!