Rene Wanner's Poster Page


Book cover, 5k Galerie der Strasse Hoehepunkte der Plakatkunst von ihren Anfaengen bis heute. From the poster collection of the Hessisches Landesmuseums Darmstadt, edited by M. Harms-Lueckerath. Published as catalogue of the exhibition at the museum, 1998.02.01 - 1998.05.03

Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg (D)(1998)
available from Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt, Friedensplatz 1, D-64283 Darmstadt, fax 06151-165799
191 pages, 80 full page color reproductions, 28 x 22 cm, hardcover; ISBN 3-980444-9-X; 80 DM (about 45 US$)
in german

The Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt, Germany is one of the many museums that began to collect posters at the time of the first affichomania, around 1900. During the final days of World War 2, the whole collection, including its documentation, was devastated by a fire, but the museum started to reconstruct it, based on records from its poster exhibition in 1930. It is now back to a count of 15'000 and keeps adding contemporary posters to its high quality holdings.

The collection today is complete enough to provide examples for a representative history of posters from the early days of Cheret (the first poster shown in the book is from 1875), Lautrec or Steinlen to the artist posters of Beuys, Martin Kippenberger or Arnulf Rainer of the 1980's, and this is just what Martina Harms, the curator of the exhibition, has written with this catalogue.

Her strategy, to show relatively few posters but discuss them in detail and show them in large size, works very well. The illustrations are of such a quality that you can easily read artist's signatures and printer names and even count eyelashes on some posters. The text page opposite each poster attests to thorough research, is rich in fascinating detail, and places the work in historic and artistic context. In addition, a literature reference to the poster, a short biography of the designer, and other useful information is right there beside the picture. The unknown book designer ("Kehrer Heidelberg") arranged it all so expertly that you are not even aware of how well you are treated as a reader. Unspectacular, but typography at it's best.

Poster, 6k
Lait pur sterilise
1894, Theophile Steinlen
Poster, 7k
Internationale Hygiene-Ausstellung
1911, Franz von Stuck
Poster, 9k
Miete Strom Gas
1986, Martin Kippenberger
Poster for the exhibition of the artist at the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt
The book starts with an encyclopedic article on poster history, and the posters themselves are grouped into chapters like The beginning of modern picture posters in Paris, Early Posters in Great Britain and the USA, in Belgium, Germany, in Vienna. A special chapter is dedicated to the early Darmstadt artists Behrens, Olbrich, Christiansen, Cissarz, Kleukens and Hoetger.

A curious period of artistic stagnation then befalls the poster world between 1930 until about 1950, when french, swiss and polish designers begin to blossom again, and this time span is documented with Savignac, Leupin, Tomaszewski, to name but a few. The review concludes with international artist posters. About the only designer that I really miss among the 80 that are chosen is Cassandre.

The catalogue is highly recommended for anyone looking for a short history of posters, but would also grace the library of the connoisseur.

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