The interest for Belgian poster art

Who does not know the names of Privat-Livemont or Henri Cassiers? No single standard work on the history of commercial graphic design can overlook these masters of art nouveau. They brought international recognition to the Belgian poster. It is true that designers such as Leo Marfurt and Julian Key also produced works in their times which similarly broke new ground, but they have never received the level of recognition outside the country that they really deserve.

"We" are naturally not totally free of blame for this situation. In Belgium itself, the first step was taken in the seventies with an exhibition on the "Belle Epoque" This was followed up in the early eighties by a series of retrospectives, concentrating mainly on posters from the inter-war period, and only to a lesser extent on those produced after 1945. In each case, the central aim was to present "national highlights". In retrospect, the selection proved to have been too hasty and too narrow. To far too great an extent, recourse was made each time to the same collections. The catalogues, too, were light-weight. Over the past fifteen years, though, a move toward a more intensive study of Belgian poster art can be dicerned, for example in the research into regional and subject-related topics and in particular to biographies of the artists involved.