LEONETTO CAPPIELLO AND THE “VIRTUES OF A PRODUCT”

The name Leonetto Cappiello is synonymous with modern poster design. In the glittering Paris of the Belle Époque, Cappiello built a reputation as a caricaturist and master of the new art of the advertising poster. This endlessly talented Italian immigrant revolutionized poster design at a time when the avant-garde referred to advertising, which was still in its infancy, as a “festival complementary to that of art”.

His first meeting with Devambez in 1918 marked the start of a long discussion: three years later he signed an exclusive contract with the Paris publisher for whom he designed now famous icons: new industrial brands such as Kub, Campari, Pirelli, Chocolat Klaus and Poudre de Luzy, and the famous entertainer Mistinguett at the Casino de Paris.

Not only did these vivid and powerful posters perfectly interpret the “virtue of a product”, they also reflected the ebullient enthusiasm of modern society, “like faithful mirrors recording the myriad reflections of the amusing, multi-coloured crowd”.

The major Cappiello retrospective held at Devambez from 20 February to 7 March 1923 celebrated a collaboration that lasted over fifteen years and was emblematic of Devambez’s avant-garde intuition that publicity was a new twentieth century art form.

Les Nouvelles affiches Cappiello, selection of posters, Devambez, Paris
Leonetto Cappiello, exhibition catalogue, galerie Devambez, Paris, 20 February -7 March 1923, Paris, Devambez, 1923