By the end of the 19th century, graphic illustrators
Oscar Wilde was arguably one of the most influential literary figures of this era; he appreciated all art, thinking it was an end unto itself and could not be evaluated with ethical or moral issues. Wilde chose this important figure in the history of Art Nouveau style to create imagery for a story of his which was considered 'perverse' and 'exotic'. The tale was illustrated in fantastical patterns, sweeping lines, and eroticism somewhat threaterning in its design.
The interplay between black and white characterizes this dramatic work. The delicate patterns executed on a white background are in sharp contrast to large borders and dark and threatening planes. His page was commonly unbalanced and the artistic movement was displayed with sweeping, continuous and undulating curves. Although his characters were drawn as basic outlines, the objects they interacted with, such as their clothing or hair were often much more detailed. This communication between these complex elements and the more simple forms are the foundation for the effectiveness of his works.
Many artists in the 1800s were influenced by items which were being imported from Asia, in addition to a focus on Renaissance decor and medieval artworks. Wilde's drawings ran in numerous famous and popular publications of the time. This led to widespread admiration and appreciate of his work in both the United States and throughout Europe. Artists imitated and copied his work at every opportunity. Framed prints and posters are available today to be framed and displayed. Many of these prints and posters are copies and reproductions of Wilde's distinctive pieces.
Poster art developed slowly from a form of commercial advertising to its own artistic genre during the late 19th century. Posters enjoyed the addition of color printing, while books remains black and white in most cases. Design of posters typically concentrated on a single image, created to attract attention using color and form. Informative text regarding the item or event in question were as short as they could be. The man heading up poster design capitalized on his awareness that capturing your viewer's attention hinges upon simplicity and clarity. To that end, his colors were vivid and bright and his shapes were flat and uncomplicated. Much like an Impressionist painting, his lines would be somewhat fractured and hesitant. This style became known as the first inklings of the Art Nouveau poster style.
Another artist known for bolder lines and more flowing curves is considered as the father of the prototypical art nouveau poster. His work is marked by youthful, willowy girls wearing loose fitting clothes and with long flowing hair that floats out into fantastic forms. Yet a different successful and well known art nouveau designer's posters always proved to be elegant, narrow strips with typically one entire length female figure. There are a variety of sources these complicated and intricate patterns draw from, including Hebrew lettering as well as fold art, Moorish and Arab decoration, Japanese wood cuts, Byzantine mosaics, and Celtic motifs.
A wide array of publications and reproductions featuring the graphic design work of late 19th and early 20th century artists are available to be appreciated. In addition, there are antique merchants focusing on the sale of 19th and 20th century posters. Their booths can be found at collectibles shops and large international style antique shows. Many of the original pieces, still in excellent condition, are valued at hundreds or even thousands of dollars.