French Bohemian Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864 – 1901) was a successful poster printmaker in Montmartre, Paris in the late 19th century at the time when printmaking and night-life culture were expanding and becoming popular. His style of bright, block colours, dark outlines and silhouettes and his depictions of people and work and in action are eye-catching, and typical of his style. The posters were edgy at the time, depicting prostitutes and can-can dancers, yet they were so popular and began to appear everywhere – on city walls, on the street, everywhere. They were a depiction of night-life with the glamour peeled away. I think the reason that Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters were so popular is because they were so avant-garde, bright, bold, and accessible.
We looked at Lautrec’s posters in a lecture focussing on the history of graphic design. I personally feel they are important in the development of the discipline as they combined art and advertising. They were so different form what had come before, and as they were stuck up everywhere, they were at the starting point for reproducible art.