Spotlight

The art of exhibition posters

 

Our exhibition poster collection spans the decades from 1950 until 2017. Browse our highlights and find out why these posters are so popular with collectors.

Print quality

Exhibition posters are traditionally produced as one-off editions in conjunction with the event. Rich colours achieved by analogue printing methods like silkscreen or offset lithography paired with high quality papers give these prints a sophisticated and authentic feel.

A reflection of culture

Each poster is an affordable piece of art history, bookmarking a particular moment in the 20th century art world while reflecting the culture of the day through the messaging, design and typography. Exhibition posters signify the coming together of artist and cultural institution to take pride in announcing a collaborative event. This places an artist’s work in the context of geographical place and time, deepening our understanding of what inspired and influenced the artist.

Artist as poster designer

Exhibition posters are an interesting meeting point of graphic design and fine art. Although artists are not typically involved in the actual printing process, they provide a level of genuine input, from curating the entire poster (including image, colour and text), to overseeing an arrangement by a graphic designer.

Gagosian

Gagosian Gallery boasts a network of sixteen exhibition spaces around the globe and represents an array of international masters, including Picasso, Lichtenstein and de Kooning as well as contemporary artists like Damien Hirst. We are delighted to offer a special collection of posters from the archives of this influential gallery. Produced exclusively for hit shows at Gagosian, these posters have been designed to match the individuality of each artist through  colour and typography.

Petersburg Press

Petersburg Press is a leading art publishers established in 1967. Over the years they have organised many exhibitions with the artist as poster designer; choosing typeface, layout and sometimes adding original drawings into the design. There was no standard size, each poster was designed to suit the image. In collaboration with the Press, we offer a unique selection of vintage and signed posters by iconic artists including Jim Dine, David Hockney and James Rosenquist.

David Hockney created several original posters to promote the operas and ballets employing his stage designs, as well as producing many of his famous works as poster editions. Hockney would often add an original element to his poster reproductions, like the border on this 1980 poster for Tate (see above). He was a fan of posters, famously writing in his 1993 autobiography, "The poster can be a marvellous reproduction, better than anything in a book”.

Jim Dine is celebrated for his graphic, illustrative style and universal imagery. His poster works make smart use of form and colour, edged with retro typography in a perfect reflection of 70s design.

Galerie Mourlot

L’Atelier Mourlot was the largest and most famous lithographic print shop of the 20th century, collaborating with masters like Picasso, Miro and Matisse. The artists worked closely with skilled technicians at the Paris studio, producing original lithographic posters to promote their exhibitions. Displayed on the city streets of Europe, these works could reach a wide audience. Quickly recognising this opportunity, many artists spent considerable time and energy on their poster designs. In an exclusive partnership with Galerie Mourlot in New York, we offer a collection of rare posters from the atelier’s archives. 

Picasso became obsessed with the lithographic medium and was prolific in his print creation, amazing the Mourlot team with his innovative experiments. He would stay at the Mourlot print workshop for several months at a time, bent over the stones for 12 hours a day, and over the course of 20 years he created nearly 400 lithographs.

The quality offered by the lithographic medium also bewitched Miro and Matisse who became devoted to the Mourlot studio. Miro worked steadily on his prints, never rushing his work on the stones. Matisse determinedly continued to produce original prints at the studio despite ill health in his later years, and was the first artist to begin the trend of signing his name in black ink- a style that would become the trademark of all Mourlot lithographs. 

King & McGaw Archives

Here at King and McGaw we have been collecting our own treasury of exhibition posters since 1982. Highlights from our archive include rare posters by Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring and Howard Hodgkin.

Keith Haring produced approximately 100 posters during his lifetime, making him one of the most productive artists in this field. He created posters not only for exhibitions and cultural events but also to raise awareness of political issues and was known to distribute them for free at demonstrations. In contrast to the complexity of his large scale paintings, Haring designed his posters to be simple, illustrative and accessible to everyone.

Howard Hodgkin was one of the most prolific British artists in the medium of works on paper, collaborating with master printmakers to create countless original prints. Hodgkin was interested in the objectivity of mark making and the technical process of making seemingly spontaneous brushstrokes. He also enjoyed the accessible nature of prints and posters, and many of his works take the form of both painting and print.

Roy Lichtenstein designed around 70 Pop Art posters between 1960 and 1977. Heavily influenced by advertising of the time, his graphic style translated easily into posters promoting film and music festivals, theatres, museums and his own exhibitions.

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