Journal Article

The Spectatorship of the <i>Affiche Illustrée</i> and the Modern City of Paris, 1880–1900

Karen L. Carter

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 25, issue 1, pages 11-31
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online March 2012 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI:
The Spectatorship of the Affiche Illustrée and the Modern City of Paris, 1880–1900

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As a response to Susan Sontag’s classic writing on the poster, this essay analyses the phenomenon of the French ‘pictorial’ publicity poster, which developed in concert with a specific type of spectatorship delineated in contemporary poster criticism as linked to the city of Paris at the end of the nineteenth century. By comparing the collective reading of political placards and announcements in the early modern period to the hurried viewing of illustrated publicity posters at the dawn of the consumer economy, this essay contextualizes the poster’s spectatorship as dependent upon its conditions of public display in Paris after the city’s renovation and rationalization under Haussmannization.

Keywords: criticism; France; lithography; Paris; poster design; public

Journal Article.  12606 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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