The other day I was fortunate enough to experience a wonderful exhibition of the work of Jules Chéret, poster designer extraordinaire, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. A plethora of illustrations, pastel drawings, prints and paintings his work has a magical quality that evokes whimsical childhood and the intoxicating power of Belle Epoque France, specifically Paris.
Chéret was the innovator of the Belle Epoque poster that trigger the affichomanie (a poster-craze) which dominated Paris at the time (the late 1800s). He was also avant-garde in his use of chromolithography, the art of printing with colour, something that was groundbreaking in the early Belle Epoque.
Others, such as Toulouse Lautrec, Steinlen and Mucha followed in his footsteps, but Chéret was the true father of this poster-mania that began to dominate the streets of Paris as well as the advertising industry. The streets became explosions of colour as Belle Epoque posters adorned the otherwise black and mundane streets.
Louis Carrier-Belleuse, L’Étameur, 1882