original art poster

From a few hundred to a few thousand euros, original posters continue to increase in value, attracting the eye of collectors. A few years ago, posters were not considered authentic works of art or collectors' items as they are today. Which posters are the most popular? How can we tell if a work is attractive on the market? A few explanations about the original poster a real collector's item to acquire!

All you need to know about original art posters

An art poster is a combination of artwork, artist and text, composed in a certain typography and laid out by a poster artist. poster artist in the early 20th century, then a graphic designer later on. It's this combination of text and image that appeals to poster enthusiasts.

Distinguishing between advertising and art posters 

The term "original poster" is used to distinguish between advertising posters and art posters. While an original advertising poster is a period poster, an art poster is a work created by an artist specifically for the purpose of creating the poster. a work created by an artist specifically for the creation of the poster. The work does not exist on any other medium than that of the poster, apart from so-called "Affiche avant la lettre" prints, in which only the motif is reproduced. It's not a question of reproducing a work on a poster, but of creating it creation in its own right.

And don't confuse original posters with period posters: 

  • the original poster is a creation intended for the poster;
  • the period poster is printed at the time of the event it promotes. 

Please note, 

A vintage poster may not be an original poster! This is the case, for example, with the beautiful Edvard Munch posters which were printed in 1969 to promote the exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum, but reproduce a pre-existing woodcut and lithograph by Munch.

In fact, Munch could never have created an original poster in 1969, since he died in 1944! This is an important clue to recognizing an original poster: if it's created after the artist's death, it can't be original.

What is an original art poster?

An original art poster is one that has been created by an artist for use as an advertising or promotional medium for a work of art or cultural event. An art poster can also be signed by the artist, making it a unique collector's item.

It is then considered anoriginal work of artand became a highly sought-after collector's item for art collectors and poster enthusiasts.

Posters from the first half of the 20th century were mostly produced in lithography. At least, they were the most sought-after for their printing quality. 

Art posters, illustrated by artists, are most often posters announcing an exhibition in a museum or gallery, and more rarely the publication of a book. 

Arenthon Gallery

Criteria that influence the value of collector's posters

Popular with art enthusiasts, the original poster is an excellent way to start an art collection. art collection. Here are a few things to bear in mind when estimating the value of a poster.

The artist's reputation

Posters produced by the great names of modern art are more sought-after and command higher prices.

The printing technique

Lithography is the main printing technique for fine art posters. This technique involves using an ink for each color, resulting in a quality print with sharp lines, vivid colors and a uniform result. More recently, offset printing techniques are being used which also achieve good results and retain a certain value, but the result is not as deep as with lithography.

However, beware of reprints, which will have less value than vintage posters. The paper on which the proof is printed is a good indicator of the printing period. 

L'atelier Mourlot in Paris was one of the most renowned lithography workshops of the first half of the twentieth century. It worked with some of the greatest artists of the time, and as a result printed many exhibition posters. All posters printed by Mourlot bear the printer's mark at the bottom of the poster, making them easy to identify. The posters offered by Galerie Arenthon are mostly from the Mourlot workshop.

For the great artists of the 20th century, there are catalogs raisonnés of original posters, as is the case for Chagall, Miró and Picasso. These catalogs list the print run and any reprints. They sometimes even indicate unauthorized reproductions.  

Generally speaking, it's wise to buy an art poster from a specialized gallery or expert store, so as to have the guarantee of the work purchased. 


The state of preservation

The condition of a poster is one of the main criteria for determining its value. Indeed, it's not uncommon to find posters on the market with scotch tape or thumbtack marks, tears or stains. While handling marks are often present on posters, due to the use of low-quality paper - the poster is above all a communication medium, not intended for collecting - some posters can be badly damaged. A poster in good condition, never hung, will of course be more valuable than a damaged one. However, some collectors may also appreciate reading the passage of time and the life it has led, and prefer a damaged poster to a "new" one. 


What about the rarity of the original poster?


Unlike other collecting fields, rarity is not a decisive criterion.rarity is not a decisive criterion for for collectors of original art posters. Of course, some posters can be very rare and therefore highly sought-after, but rarity in itself is not considered the main characteristic that determines a poster's value. Criteria such as the artist, the quality of the print, the condition of the poster and its provenance are all factors that can have a significant impact on a poster's value.

How to choose your poster?

The value of an original poster is dictated by both objective and subjective criteria. Indeed, when choosing a poster, it can be difficult to determine what is considered "beautiful". Its appeal will depend on the tastes and sensibilities of every art enthusiast and collector, amateur or professional. Some displays can provoke more emotion. Depending on a memory, a moment, a subject or an artist of the time, an original poster will touch you more particularly. So, above all, it's your taste that determines your choice! As with the acquisition of a work of art, every collection must begin with a purchase that appeals to the heart, and every work must please its purchaser, before entering into considerations of value. We therefore advise you to browse through our wide selection of posters to get an idea of which ones might appeal to you, before making your decision.  

An original poster can be of great value if it comes from a specific era, embodies a graphic design characteristic of a well-known period, or promotes an avant-garde vision of art. However, you may find it difficult to prove authenticity and detect the signs that would elevate a poster to the status of collector's item. If in doubt, we strongly recommend that you contact us for advice on acquiring an original poster.

Thinking of expanding your poster collection? Find original postersprints and other works of art at Galerie d'art Arenthon in Paris.

To discover the history of the French advertising poster, check out the excellent article published by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs: https://madparis.fr/histoire-de-l-affiche-francaise as well as a short history of poster advertising: https://madparis.fr/petite-histoire-de-l-affichage