Leonetto Cappiello

Published : 05/19/2022 15:40:07
Categories : Art

Leonetto Cappiello (1872-1942) occupies a  unique niche in poster lore: he virtually invented  the modern advertising poster, and worked  prolifically throughout his life.

During his time, posters were ubiquitously employed as the most effective weapon in any promotional arsenal. However, only the best posters managed to do what Cappiello accomplished routinely: they capture attention immediately, and associate themselves in our minds with an advertised product or service—even though that image may have little or nothing to do with the advertised item.

Cappiello understood that the world at the start of the twentieth century was rapidly changing; the great strides in industry and technology created an explosion of consumer demand that had never before existed, and the marketplace was becoming fiercely competitive. Thus, the sales message that previously could be discreetly whispered now needed to be vigorously shouted—especially to those traveling quickly in moving vehicles. Synthesizing the two previous masters of the trade—Chéret and Toulouse-Lautrec—Cappiello presented a new result in his own humorous style, tinged with caricature, as a visual punch that arrested the viewer’s attention with an unexpected or incongruous image. But he always managed to keep the product central to his objective.

For the serious Cappiello collector, the artist’s grandson, Pierre Cappiello, maintains an online database of the artist’s posters and maquettes, which is available here: https://cappiello.fr/en/posters/

The book The Posters of Leonetto Cappiello, a catalogue raisonné of the artist, is available from Posters Please, New York.

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