japonisme: the prankster flatters

24 September 2007

the prankster flatters

Pen- field was at the fore- front of the poster art form. His particularly American approach to the Art Nouveau movement downplayed the dramatic curving lines of the European version and emphasized flat, simple areas of form and color as seen in Japanese prints and the work of the Post-Impressionists, especially Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Penfield’s posters became a means by which he could introduce avant-garde aesthetics to the American public. He is, in fact, credited with bringing abstraction to American commercial art. He had an art director’s understanding of what was required for a successful advertisement. As he noted, “It is more a question of what to leave out than what to put in.” 1

a little while back i posted the two images above, penfield's 'salute' to bairei kono, as mentioned in meech and weisberg's japonisme comes to america. then, a couple of days ago i came across penfield's poster to the right, on a website that stated it was his homage to steinlen's illustration to the left.

then i came across one of his illustrations i hadn't really noticed before, below, and the row of carriages reminded me of something.

i went and checked the bonnard painting i had remembered (above), and just really had to smile.

a wonderful (if unfinished) website all about penfield pointed out this penfield/ toulouse- lautrec similarity.

naturally, this got up my curi- osity. i feel like if i only were a little bit more knowledgeable about art history, having memorized all of the japanese and french artists of the last century or so, i would find many more of these. but in the meantime i offer.... (both penfield/steinlen pairings)

similar? coincidence? hat doffing? i love all this stuff. anyone out there know of any more of penfield's playful posters?

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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