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Poster House opens in NYC!

I know it's a bit overdue, but I'd be remiss not to mention the opening of POSTER HOUSE last month! I definitely need to make plans to go there later this fall...

Poster House is the first museum in the United States dedicated exclusively to the art of posters.

From their official website:

Through exhibitions, events, and publications, Poster House presents a global view of posters from their earliest appearance in the late 1800s, to their present-day use. Poster House takes its mission from the medium, aiming to engage and educate all audiences as we investigate this large format graphic design and its public impact. ...

For a poster to succeed, it must communicate. By combining the power of images and words, posters speak to audiences quickly and persuasively. Blending design, advertising, and art, posters clearly reflect the place and time in which they were made. Through them, Poster House explores everything from avant-garde design, to changing societal norms, and all the fads and fashions over the last 160 years.

Poster House was founded in 2015 with an eye towards filling a long-acknowledged gap in the New York cultural landscape. While there are several poster museums around the world, New York, with its long relationship with advertising and design, did not have such a dedicated public institution. After several years of planning and construction, Poster House opens its doors in June 2019.

Posters don’t get a lot of respect from the art world, but the founders of Poster House, the first museum in the United States devoted to the art and global history of posters, hope to change all that. The museum, which opened Thursday on West 23rd Street in Manhattan, is taking a scrappy and focused approach to a genre that really took off as a medium in the late 1860s and has become so omnipresent that some may forget that it can be art.

“They have a great impact on fleshing out a culture, a time period,” said Angelina Lippert, the museum’s chief curator, citing the democratic appeal of posters, which people encounter everyday. “It’s a really valuable way of looking at social history that affected the average person.” ...

The opening programming is intended as a mix of the familiar and the new. The larger of the two main exhibitions, “Alphonse Mucha: Art Nouveau/Nouvelle Femme,” puts the spotlight on the Czech artist and his flowery Art Nouveau images. Mucha (1860-1939) created compositions that captured the mood of the belle epoque. (Most of the posters in the show are on loan from the Richard Fuxa Foundation in Prague.)

The display of about 80 works emphasizes the visual ground broken by Mucha, whose career didn’t take off until he was an illustrator in his 30s and living in Paris. There he began a rewarding working relationship with the great actress of the day, Sarah Bernhardt. ...

By 1900, Mucha was much in demand. He helped transform a cookie brand, Biscuits Lefèvre-Utile, with the dramatic image “Flirt,” which is also in the exhibition.

“He takes it from the lunch box to the opera box,” Ms. Lippert said of the concept, with a soignée romantic couple and nary a cookie crumb to be seen. Amazingly, given the swirls and frills in such designs, “he worked freehand,” she added. ...

A smaller exhibition, “Designing Through the Wall: Cyan in the 1990s,” showcases the inventive graphic work of a design collective, Cyan, founded in East Berlin. Cyan used early desktop tools like PageMaker and Photoshop to make layered, densely packed images for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation — the modern version of the Bauhaus art academy — and other cultural organizations.

Both shows are on view until Oct. 6.

“Having these two shows allows us to cover 100 years of what happened in posters, and you can see the pendulum swing to the other end of the spectrum,” from charming Old World to cutting-edge, Ms. Knight said.

The fall exhibitions look at a little-known area of the genre. “The Golden Age of Ghanaian Hand-Painted Film Posters” offers a window into the aspirations of the country’s burgeoning middle class in the 1990s, after a period of upheaval. Another show, “Three Years Later: The 2017 Women’s March & Where We Are Today,” is intended to demonstrate Poster House’s interest in diversity in a genre where much of the work has been done by European and American men. ...

Ms. Knight said they were aiming for a welcoming feeling that suits the medium. “We really hope that this is a museum for everybody,” she said. “Posters were designed and made for everybody on the street.”


119 West 23rd Street

Manhattan, NY


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