Poster Spotlight: Bitter Campari by Leonetto Cappiello
February 10, 2017
Ellis: "Cappiello in his studio"
Leonetto Cappiello: "The Father of Modern Advertising"
Leonetto Cappiello’s career began on the threshold of modernization and his posters reflected such. In an age where cars were becoming prevalent in everyday life, posters needed to be clear in order to be seen at a quick pace. For this reason, Cappiello preferred simplicity over detail and would become the pioneer of the “modern poster”.
Originally a caricature artist, Cappiello defined his most famous style of work in the early 1900’s. It was during this time that he began using fairy-tale like creatures and human caricatures in his work. The bright colors and ostentatious characters appealed to many and Cappiello found himself with numerous imitators through the era.
Cappiello’s posters featured memorable, and oftentimes whimsical, characters. He painted the subjects in bold hues and set them against a solid backdrop; the result made the figures pop from the page. Many times he did not include the item that was being advertised: an uncommonality back then, and still today.
In many cases, Cappiello’s characters went on to define a brand; such is the case for Maurin Quina, a French aperitif. Many of his images are still in use by his clients today.
Poster Spotlight: Bitter Campari
Date printed: 1921; country of origin: Italy.
To promote Bitter Campari, an alcoholic bitter, Cappiello used the theater character Pierrot. The lonesome clown dons a red jumpsuit and is entwined with a larger-than-life orange peel. With its humor and alluring colors, the poster was so well received that it was used by Campari for over fifty years.
In the span of his career, Cappiello created over 2,000 posters, while also painting favorites of his own, such as portraits. Cappiello was a master of understanding the changing world and catering to it, which can attribute to his many years of success.