Saturday, November 24, 2012

Today is Toulouse-Lautrec's birthday

Jardin de Paris, May Belfort, 1883
Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec
I probably don't need to write this as it is probably not news to anyone but Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was one of the greatest lithographers of all time. He fully embraced this printmaking medium and maximized its potential for illustration and poster design. He was among the artists who took the relatively new printmaking medium of lithography (in the late 19th century) and became one of the world's most famous lithographers. His masterful use of simplified color fields and expressive, painterly line compositions are as powerful today as they were in the 1800s.

Late 19th Century/Early 20th Century Lithography Timeline
The timeline above (click to embiggen) is a slide I made in grad school for a presentation on the history of lithography. You can see that Toulouse-Lautrec has a prominent spot on this timeline and yet he was accompanied by many other talented poster artists who exploded on the lithography scene in Europe and the U.S. near the close of the 19th century. Jules Cheret, who invented the 3-color lithographic process, paved the way for the other artists listed here including Toulouse-Lautrec.

If you are of the mind to look them up, these other artists include: Pierre Bonnard, Théophile Steinlen, Maxfield Parrish, Leonetto Cappiello, The Beggarstaffs, Lucian Bernhard, Eugène Grasset, Edward Penfield, William H. Bradley, among others. And in the early 20th century, the work of printmaker, designer, illustrator, painter and typographer, Cassandre became well known as his iconic lithographic travel posters of grand ships and advertisements for Dubonnet were produced and subsequently distributed internationally. In fact, designers in the late 20th century to the present, continue to draw inspiration from Cassandre's work. See Paula Scher's Audiophile promotion for CBS Records in 1980. And compare it to Cassandre's seen below. This is just one example, and there are more current ones where designers and illustrators continue to draw inspiration from Cassandre as well as other early lithographers.
L’intransigeant, 1925
A.M. Cassandre
With that all said, Happy Birthday Henri!