Posters like modern advertising in general are a creation of 19th-century industrial manufacturing. Employing visual enticements, they bridged a gap that had opened between producers and consumers, drew attention to novel branded products, aroused and shaped new consumer needs. Pedestrians were unable to escape their omnipresence: Posters, declared one observer in 1904, now cover pretty much every available surface in our cities, causing us to be surrounded by talking walls.
Artists and designers placed themselves at the service of businessmen and endeavored to effectively showcase the new world of products and appeal to potential consumers desires, hopes and values. While the first poster artists in the days before 1900 still harbored visions of a gallery on the street and posters as an instrument to shape public tastes, new, commercially pragmatic thinking asserted itself around 1905: Based on the emerging psychology and science of advertising, poster artists completed a transformation to modern commercial artists.
While previous exhibitions have usually addressed the history of poster art, this major show at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum
emphasizes the history and mechanisms of poster advertising. The exhibition has been conceived as an imaginary department store: Individual departments present the world of food, household, cosmetic, media and recreational products. Advertising links individual products and their respective target groups with certain promises of happiness embodied by visual themes and stereotypes that deserve examination.
This exhibition puts the Nuremberg Poster Collection, one of the largest such collections in Germany, on display for the first time. Georg Bergler, Professor at Nuremberg College of Economics and Social Sciences, started assembling it in the 1950s as a teaching collection for his field of specialization of marketing research and advertising theory. In 2002, the GfK Group and the Nürnberger Akademie für Absatzwirtschaft entrusted it to the museum as a permanent loan.
The Nuremberg Poster Collection not only stands for Nurembergs significance in German marketing research. It also constitutes an inexhaustible source of material for modern cultural history.