In the late nineteenth century, lithographers began to use mass-produced zinc plates rather than stones in their printing process. This innovation allowed them to prepare multiple plates, each with a different color ink, and to print these with close registration on the same sheet of paper. Posters in a range of colors and variety of sizes could now be produced quickly, at modest cost. Skilled illustrators and graphic designers – such as Alphonse Mucha, Jules Cheret, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec -- quickly began to exploit this new technology; the “Golden Age of the Poster” (1880s through the First World War) was the spectacular result. This collection of over one hundred and sixty digital images of historic posters from this period was originally compiled to support the teaching of Design History and Graphic Design courses at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. Many of the artists who designed posters during this period were already well known in other media, such as painting and architecture. Their creative success helped to bridge the gap between “high art” and popular visual culture, and to introduce even those who never visited museums or galleries to examples of innovative design. Today, these striking posters are highly regarded as being among the most distinctive examples of fin-de-siecle styles such as Art Nouveau and the Vienna Secession.
All of these works are in the public domain under United States Copyright Law.