Stunning Posters Created by Pioneering Designers


Herbert Matter was a master of photomontage. Philippe Apeloig was inspired by the performing arts and treated “the letter as a choreographed body.” M/M Paris (Mathias Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag) has collaborated with musicians like Björk and fashion designers such as Jil Sander. These designers are considered pioneers in their fields and are being featured in a new exhibition from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, called How Posters Work. From May 8 to November 15, 125 works from the institution’s permanent collection will “[reveal] the design techniques behind some of the most iconic and beloved posters in the museum’s collection, from the hard-edged designs of Ladislav Sutnar to the ever popular psychedelic posters of the 1960s, which epitomize sensory overload,” according to a museum press release. “The exhibition demonstrates how some of the world’s most creative designers have employed design principles to produce powerful acts of visual communication.” From film posters to typewriter company ad campaigns, preview the striking designs featured in How Posters Work in our gallery.

Ladislav Sutnar (American and Czech, 1897ñ1976) for A. B. Addo (Malmˆ, Sweden). Addo-x, 1958. Offset lithograph. 96.8 x 61.3 cm (38 1/8 x 24 1/8 in.). Gift of Anonymous Donor, 1994-109-7. Photo by Matt Flynn.

Wiktor GÛrka (Polish, 1922ñ2004). Kabaret [Cabaret], 1973. Offset lithograph. 83.7 x 58 cm (32 15/16 x 22 13/16 in.). Gift of Sara and Marc Benda, 2010-21-100. Photo by Matt Flynn.

Saul Bass (American, 1920ñ1996). Exodus, 1961. Offset lithograph. Printed by National Screen Service Corporation (USA). 104 x 68.5 cm (40 15/16 x 26 15/16 in.). Gift of Sara and Marc Benda, 2010-21-16. Photo by Matt Flynn.

Victor Moscoso (Spanish and American, b. 1936). Junior Wells, 1966. Offset lithograph. 50.3 x 36 cm (19 13/16 x 14 3/16 in.). Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie J. Schreyer, 1979-34-37. Photo by Matt Flynn.

Felix Pfäffli (Swiss, b. 1986) for Weltformat Poster Festival (Lucerne, Switzerland). Weltformat 13, 2013. Lithograph. 128 ◊ 89.5 cm (50 3/8 ◊ 35 1/4 in.). Gift of Felix Pfäffli, 2014-30-2. Photo by Matt Flynn.

Edward McKnight Kauffer (American, active England, 1890ñ1954) for Empire Tea Market Expansion Board (International). Tea Drives Away the Droops, 1936. Lithograph. 75.7 x 50.3 cm (29 13/16 x 19 13/16 in.). Gift of Mrs. E. McKnight Kauffer, 1963-39-84. Photo by Matt Flynn.

Frederick Siebel (American, Austrian, and Czech, 1913ñ1991). Someone Talked, 1942. Lithograph. Printed by Devoe & Raynolds Painting Company (USA). 101.6 ◊ 71.1 cm (40 ◊ 28 in.). Gift of Louise ClÈmencon, 1949-108-10. Photo by Matt Flynn.

Waldemar Swierzy (Polish, 1931ñ2013). Nocny Kowboj [Midnight Cowboy], 1973. Offset lithograph. 82.3 x 58.5 cm (32 3/8 x 23 1/16 in.). Gift of Sara and Marc Benda, 2010-21-103. Photo by Matt Flynn.

Jacques Delisle (Canadian, b. 1941) for CinÈpix Film Properties, Inc. (CFP) (Montreal, Canada). LíInitiation, 1970. Offset lithograph. 101.6 x 68.6 cm (40 x 27 in.). Gift of Sara and Marc Benda, 2010-21-97. Photo by Matt Flynn.

Lucian Bernhard (German, 1883ñ1972) for Adler (Germany). Adler Typewriter, 1909ñ10. Lithograph. Printed by Hollerbaum & Schmidt (Berlin, Germany). 34.5 x 47 cm (13 9/16 x 18 1/2 in.). Gift of the Eric Kellenberger Collection, Switzerland, and museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment, 2005-12-2. Photo by Matt Flynn.

Experimental Jetset (Amsterdam, Netherlands): Erwin Brinkers (Dutch, b. 1973), Marieke Stolk (Dutch, b. 1967), and Danny van den Dungen (Dutch, b. 1971) for Paradiso (Amsterdam, Netherlands). Paradiso 2010, 2010. Diecut, offset lithographs. 59.4 ◊ 42 cm (23 3/8 ◊ 16 9/16 in.). Gift of Experimental Jetset, 2014-40-3, -5/-7. Photo by Matt Flynn.

Paula Scher (American, b. 1948) for the Public Theater (New York, New York, USA). Him, 1994. 116.8 x 76.2 cm (46 x 30 in.). Gift of Paula Scher, 2013-25-1. Photo by Matt Flynn.

Michael Bierut (American, b. 1957) for Architectural League of New York (New York, New York, USA). LIGHT/YEARS, 1999. Offset lithograph. 59.7 x 97.8 cm (23 1/2 x 38 1/2 in.). Gift of Michael Bierut, 2007-12-2. Photo by Matt Flynn.

Art Chantry (American, b. 1954). Ready for War, 1982. Screenprint. 60.9 ◊ 45.5 cm (24 ◊ 17 15/16 in.). Gift of Steven Heller and Karrie Jacobs, 1993-53-27. Photo by Matt Flynn.