Posters: The Original Street Art

A typical NYC corner, 1909. Click on the image to see all of our turn of the century posters currently in stock

Click on the image to see all of our turn of the century posters currently in stock.

When we think of the term ‘street art’ many ideas begin to surface; rebellion, counterculture, social defiance. Artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, and more recently Banksy and Shephard Fairey have become household names due to their street art. It is important to note that street art has been an emblem of city life well before the 1980s; in fact it began over a century before under the auspices of advertising.

Manet's Au Cafe, 1878. Notice the poster in the window.

Manet’s Au Cafe, 1878. Notice the poster in the window.

Street art began as a direct result of the massive influx of city populations in the middle of the nineteenth century. As train travel and industrial growth created new jobs and a fast way to reach them, cities like Paris, New York, and London became the most crowded they had been in modern times. With this exciting growth came real logistical struggles; disease became much more easily spread and overcrowding created a strain on the cities’ infrastructures. By 1850, the center of Paris was dark, dangerous, and unhealthy. Enter to our story Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, on Napoleon III. France’s very first leader to win via popular election, Napoleon III ran on the promise of revitalizing and modernizing Paris. In 1852 he asserted,

“Paris is the heart of France. Let us apply our efforts to embellishing this great city. Let us open new streets, make the working class quarters, which lack air and light, more healthy, and let the beneficial sunlight reach everywhere within our walls”

Although Napoleon III ended up not being the most altruistic of leaders (after losing his reelection, he promptly banished his opponents and declared himself Emperor), he was good on his word. By 1870, Paris boasted wide boulevards and grand monumental buildings. In terms of sanitation, traffic, and general breathing room, these changes were wonderful. In terms of aesthetics, many Parisians were in despair. Gone were the quaint alleyways of their youth; the charm of the city seemed to be disappearing.

As luck would have it, while Paris was being rebuilt great advances were also being made in the field of printmaking. Jules Cheret discovered a faster and more efficient way of printing multi-colored posters, and modern advertising changed forever.

Soon after Cheret’s discovery, posters began to fill the once barren newly built structures throughout Paris. People were elated; color had returned to their lives.

We are pleased to share the below photos of posters on the street throughout the years, and our proud to have many available through our website www.rossartgroup.com.

Enjoy! Click on any image to learn more about it:

3745-180DPI

Two wonderful examples of early poster art by Jules Cheret. Click on either to learn more about them.

3763-180DPI

Two wonderful examples of early poster art by Jules Cheret. Click on either to learn more about them.

83-Paris-WWII-posters

Advertising posters being replaced with war effort posters, France. Click here to see our entire collection of WWII posters.

6855-180DPI

A French street corner is covered with posters by famed artist, Villemot. Click here to see our Villemot in stock.

A French street corner is covered with posters by famed artist, Villemot. Click here to see our Villemot in stock.

4690-180DPI

A travel poster done by Villemot, c.1980. Click on the image to learn more about it.

SAVIGNAC

Raymond Savignac was beloved in France for filling its streets with happy images. Click here to see our collection.

Raymond Savignac was beloved in France for filling its streets with happy images. Click here to see our collection.

Raymond Savignac was beloved in France for filling its streets with happy images. Click here to see our collection.

A wonderful example of Savignac's whimsy. Click to learn more about this piece.

A wonderful example of Savignac’s whimsy. Click to learn more about this piece.

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About The Ross Art Group

Specializing in original vintage posters, The Ross Art Group opened its doors over 18 years ago, and founder Mickey Ross has been collecting original posters for over 25 years. What started out as a hobby, sparked a true passion and developed into a thriving business.
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