THE POSTER AS A GRAPHIC MEDIUM
From nineteenth century broadsides to twentieth century propaganda posters, the poster is to graphic design what the building is to the street.
Posters have always existed in that tension-filled space between culture and commerce, situated somewhat precariously between the fine and applied arts. If nineteenth-century posters offered pomp and propaganda, early twentieth-century posters created a canvas in which expressive typography mixed with theatrical juxtaposition to produce new formal languages. Throughout this time, it might be argued that a poster has always been seen as a kind of visual tonic, an antidote to chaos — and something which, by sheer virtue of its scale, can knock you right over. “Some one sole unique advertisement,” as James Joyce once wrote, “to cause passers to stop in wonder, a poster novelty, with all extraneous accretions excluded, reduced to its simplest and most efficient terms not exceeding the span of casual vision and congruous with the velocity of modern life.”