The Coningsby Gallery

Debut Art

Outstanding contemporary illustration
and graphic and fine art.

Hommage. Vintage Lithography

Hommage pays tribute to the great art-exhibition posters personally crafted by the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Miró, Chagall, Léger and many other giants of the 20th century Modern Art world.

Marketing posters were first developed in the late 19th century for the cabaret and theatre scene in Paris. The Belle Époque was a hotbed of inspiration for artist Toulouse-Lautrec, who made his name designing iconic coloured lithographs of dancers, to promote shows. Parisian museums were hot on the same publicity heels to attract crowds through the turnstyles. But when art galleries advertised exhibitions with artists’ own, highly-skilled work, the lithographic poster became much more than a marketing tool, it became an enduring, highly sought-after artwork in itself.

Lithography required many hours of highly-skilled and painstaking work to draw or trace images onto meticulously prepared limestone blocks before printing with inks and coloured oils. The printers L’atelier Mourlot (also known as the Mourlot studios) on the Rue Chabrol in Paris had early success creating museum posters in the early 1900s, and went on to produce their first art-exhibition poster for the Maitres de l’Art Independent Exhibition at the Petit Palais in 1937 for Matisse and Bonnard. These artists, and many others, also worked with the lithographer Aimé Maeght from his print shop in Cannes in the 1930s.

But it was after the Second World War, when expressive and expansive art continued with evermore imaginative paintings, in simple or brightly coloured forms, that an extraordinary collaboration developed between Fernand Mourlot and Pablo Picasso. From the Mourlot studios, Picasso produced more than 400 lithographs during the 40s, 50s and 60s, establishing lithography not just as a means for commercial reproduction but as an art form in itself. Picasso, as well as other artists exploring lithography, were also able to recreate exact images and copies of their original masterpieces to promote their own shows and produce individual posters which could be repeated to fulfil a numbered print run. Each poster was, and remains, unique.

This collection from Hommage has been put together by Harry Pruden, a collector of original lithographs and exhibition posters by some of the biggest names in Modern Art. “The art-exhibition poster is so much more than just a poster,” says Harry, “each one, carefully transposed onto richly, textured paper, has a story. No two are the same: every stain, crease, tear and frayed edge plays its part in its individual journey from printing press to ‘billboard’ and poster to frame for today’s pictorial value. Some are from a small print run making their existence more remarkable, others have survived the rigours of time and neglect, and many just have ‘buy me’ at any cost for the vibrancy of a poster touched by the genius who created them. Picasso’s work with Mourlot are some of my favourites for the colours and the fun. Others include André Brasilier’s horses charged with tangible movement and atmosphere. The real joy of owning any art-exhibition poster ¬is that it’s a great way to have genuinely exciting art by a big-name artist, and for a fraction of the price.”

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