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Jules Cheret and French Poster

The turn of the nineteenth century was a special time in French graphic design history.  Working amidst the short lived yet highly influential “Art Nouveau” movement, French poster designers flourished.

“Art Nouveau” was an art movement, lasting from around 1890 to 1910, where the artists of the time rejected the strict rules and standards imposed art academies.  These artists had become tired of the rigid rules regarding form, shape, and texture, and instead reached for visual and emotional expression in their work.  Instead of the studied, calculated painted figures seen from the academy, expressive French curves and inspiration drawn from the natural world were embraced.

French designers, such as Jules Cheret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, were heavily influenced by the stylings of art nouveau, and incorporated it into their lithograph posters.  Soon, the beauty of the posters became valued by collectors and were highly sought after.  Cheret, keenly spotting a market for the posters, opened up an art exhibition featuring the works.

The French posters were a wonderful era for graphic design, and the influence of art nouveau is still felt to this day.