Winter 2004

Early commercial posters [EXTRACT]

Cappiello: The Posters of Leonetto Cappiello

By Jack Rennert<br>The Poster Art Library, USD80<br>

You will not see many designers today borrowing Cappiello’s illustrative method because, unlike Constructivism or the Bauhaus, this work does not have a cool machine-age veneer. Yet at the dawn of mass marketing, Cappiello made radical advertising. This 336-page book by gallery owner Jack Rennert, which features many of Cappiello’s over one thousand designs, establishes its historical and commercial value today on a par with Cheret and Cassandre.

Italian-born Cappiello, who produced the majority of his work in Paris from 1898 to 1936, always focused on a single image – usually a mascot of some kind – accompanied by a line of hand-drawn type, usually a brand name. He once said that colour ‘makes us notice’, while action ‘makes us remember’.

Cappiello began as a caricaturist, perfecting a fluid line that captured simplified likenesses, a bridge between the Art Nouveau and Impressionist styles that dominated European advertising. [...]