It [the poster] should be pyrotechnic,
and should depend for its impression,
like a rocket, upon the rushing flight of its motion,
and the brilliant, even if momentary, surprise of its explosion.
Charles Matlack Price
Zoumboulakis Gallery inaugurates the new season in the renovated space of Kolonaki Square, designed and executed by the architectural office of Theodore Zoumboulakis (Zoumboulakis Architects), with an exhibition dedicated to posters from the gallery’s archive and the 426 exhibitions they have staged from 1966 until today.
The posters on display reflect the history of the gallery and the important exhibitions they have presented in their 52 years of consecutive operation. From the first years in the 1960s, with Alexander Iolas as a partner, to more recent collaborations with international galleries such as Denise René, Leo Castelli, Beyeler, Gemini G.E.L., Marian Goodman and others.
Included in the exhibition are iconic posters from exhibitions held at Zoumboulakis Gallery in Athens, as well as from exhibitions in Alexander Iolas’s galleries in New York, Paris, Geneva, Rome, Milan and Madrid. Among the exhibits we see the poster of Les Nouveaux Réalistes curated by Pierre Restany, Andy Warhol’s Last Supper (his ultimate exhibition in 1987), and others by pivotal artists such as Giorgio De Chirico, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Lucio Fontana, Matta, Chryssa, Y. Tsarouchis, Y. Moralis, N. Nikolaou, N. Kessanlis and posters created especially for their exhibition by Jean Tinguely, Les Lalanne, Takis, Fassianos et al.
These posters were commissioned and designed by Zoumboulakis Gallery and Alexander Iolas in close collaboration with the artists and the printing firms Graphic Olimpia in Milan and Vassilis Katoufas in Athens, amongst others. The gallery maintains a valuable archive of 321 posters and other ephemera such as invitations, press releases, photographs, catalogues etc. Three exhibitions have already been dedicated to posters in the past by Zoumboulakis Galleries: 100 Posters (1971-1985), 20 Years of Posters (1988), Poster Exhibition (1968-1991).
Posting on the Wall
The poster was born and raised in the busy, commercial city streets. Its foremost function was purely informative. Posters are the medium par excellence of the public sphere and the metropolis, since it prevailed as commercial printed matter advertising events, performances or products. The messages in posters are simple and direct, and their design is most successful when minimal. Posters are probably the mightiest tools of advertising and propaganda, and also of awakening since they are widely used to communicate political ideas and social matters. Posters are everywhere around us and we usually pass them by in a hurry without due consideration. They deserve, however, our attention since they are important ephemeral objects of great historical and aesthetic value.
Putting up posters in the streets to inform passersby about a performance, a play or a political or social issue has existed since Shakespeare’s time. In Britain and France playbills were already popular in the 17th century. Before posters appeared it was common to inform the public orally with announcements.
Colour lithography, towards the end of the 19th century, elevated posters’s artistic status. First in Paris and then in London and New York coloured posters dominated the busy streets. Gradually, posters managed to get away from their purely informative role and by featuring high quality graphic design they gained the recognition of autonomous works of art. The poster is a multiple and usually production numbers are high. This fact alone, however, did not prevent artists to experiment with the medium and its format in order to create new works (as in the cases of Toulouse Lautrec, Alphonse Mucha, John Heartfield, El Lissitzky, Guerrilla Girls, Daniel Burren et al.).
Posting on the Net
Today, electronic communication has dominated over printed one, and as a result there are fewer tangible objects. Announcements are nowadays posted electronically on websites and social media. Digital means offer economical ways that make them far more popular than traditional printed ones. With respect to exhibitions, posters have seen a dramatic drop.
At the same time, production processes (likewise in photography and audiovisual media) have been transformed with computers and now there are cost-effective, quick and DIY methods of design and reproduction.
As a result, posters gradually tend to lose their character and their use as informative media lessens. We have already witnessed their transformation from static images printed on paper to moving images on banners and screens.
Posters of past exhibitions have become in our times, without doubt, invaluable historical artefacts and collection specimens. Besides their aesthetic and historical importance they usually have a significant economic value as well. These ephemeral objects and works of art – which are rarely kept safe – constitute also a rich archival material for researchers of art and the history of exhibitions.
The exhibition is curated by Eirini Marinaki and Konstantinos Stefanis, in collaboration with Yannis Karlopoulos and Daphne Zoumboulakis.
Visitors will have the opportunity to acquire selected posters from past exhibitions by Zoumboulakis Galleries.
Opening hours: Tu., Th. & Fri. 11.00-15.00 &17.00–20.00
We. 11.00-15.00 & Sat. 11.00 –14.00
Sundays and Mondays closed
The opening night will be accompanied by “Melissomandra-White wine”, offered by Greek Wine Cellars.