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Exhibition Posters

If the inherent purpose of the poster is to sell, then the exhibition poster has perhaps the greatest compositional challenge, as it can only showcase one scene that effectively encapsulates an entire showcase. The greatest vintage exhibition posters accomplish this with aplomb, using captivating color and catchy text to lure even the most reluctant visitor.

The notion of large-scale exhibition promotion truly took hold during the early days of the world's fairs. First launched in London in 1851 at the behest of England's Queen Victoria, who wished to showcase the world's greatest advances in industry and technology, the concept of the large-scale showcase soon caught on elsewhere around the world. The field of poster art caught up to this burgeoning tradition in the latter years of the 19th century.

By the beginning of the 20th century, exhibition posters were commonplace. From upcoming Olympic games to blockbuster art showings, the exhibition poster evolved into an art form of its own that was equal parts artistic expression and marketing acumen. Today, exhibition posters are cherished by poster art aficionados for these qualities in addition to their heritage in the shared visual record.


Quick Facts

  • Though the art of the poster developed much later, the use of the term poster originated in the 1830s as a general reference to any advertisement or notice displayed prominently in public
  • Some of history's most notable artists lent their skills to exhibition poster design, including Art Nouveau expert Alphonse Mucha, French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and even late 20th century Push Pin Studio designer Milton Glaser
  • A poster promoting the French release of the 1938 film, "Bringing Up Baby," starring American actors Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, sold at a Christie's London auction in late 2015 for $105,353

Recommended Items at Auction

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POZZATTI, Rudy O. (American, 1925–2021). “Trees in Spring”....
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CST
POZZATTI, Rudy O. (American, 1925–2021). “Trees in Spring”....
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Est: $200- $300
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JOAN MIRO GALERIE MAEGHT Exhibition Lithograph
Dec 21, 10:00 AM EST
JOAN MIRO GALERIE MAEGHT Exhibition Lithograph
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1959 Joan Miro Exposition du Surrealisme lithograph signed
Nov 27, 10:00 AM EST
1959 Joan Miro Exposition du Surrealisme lithograph signed
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Modern 1950s & 1960s Art Exhibition Poster 10p LOT
Nov 30, 11:00 AM EST
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YOUNG, Purvis (American, 1943-2010). Untitled. Oil on textu...
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CST
YOUNG, Purvis (American, 1943-2010). Untitled. Oil on textu...
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Est: $1,000- $2,000
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PINTO, Salvatore (American, 1905-1966). “Locomotive and Fac...
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CST
PINTO, Salvatore (American, 1905-1966). “Locomotive and Fac...
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SCHREIBER, Georges (Belgian-American, 1904-1977). “In Tenne...
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CST
SCHREIBER, Georges (Belgian-American, 1904-1977). “In Tenne...
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CRAFT, Kinuko (Japanese-American, b. 1940). A group of 2 or...
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CST
CRAFT, Kinuko (Japanese-American, b. 1940). A group of 2 or...
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HARING, Keith (American, 1958-1990). “Into 84…” 1984. Galle...
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CST
HARING, Keith (American, 1958-1990). “Into 84…” 1984. Galle...
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HARING, Keith (American, 1958-1990). “Igorance = Fear Silen...
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CST
HARING, Keith (American, 1958-1990). “Igorance = Fear Silen...
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EICHENBERG, Fritz (German-American, 1901-1990). The Stock M...
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CST
EICHENBERG, Fritz (German-American, 1901-1990). The Stock M...
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RICHARD HAMILTON (1922-2011)
Dec 08, 2:00 PM CET
RICHARD HAMILTON (1922-2011)
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[WARHOL, Andy (American, 1928-1987), after]. A group of 2 “...
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CST
[WARHOL, Andy (American, 1928-1987), after]. A group of 2 “...
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FINSTER, Howard (American, 1916-2001). Einstene of Knowledg...
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CST
FINSTER, Howard (American, 1916-2001). Einstene of Knowledg...
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PARRISH, Maxfield (1870–1966). A group of 3 color prints. C...
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PARRISH, Maxfield (1870–1966). A group of 3 color prints. C...
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[WARHOL, Andy (American, 1928-1987), after]. A group of 2 “...
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CST
[WARHOL, Andy (American, 1928-1987), after]. A group of 2 “...
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Olbricht, Plakat Kölner Ausstellung / Olbricht, Poster Cologne exhibit
Dec 07, 2:00 PM CET
Olbricht, Plakat Kölner Ausstellung / Olbricht, Poster Cologne exhibit
by Kunstauktionshaus Günther
Est: €0- €0
€1501 Bid
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Patrick Nagel - Nagel #96 - 1990 Serigraph 36" x 24"
Dec 13, 11:00 AM EST
Patrick Nagel - Nagel #96 - 1990 Serigraph 36" x 24"
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Group of New York Art Exhibition Posters
Dec 07, 10:00 AM EST
Group of New York Art Exhibition Posters
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Est: $100- $150
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ICART, Louis (French, 1888-1950). Nude Woman Reclining. Cir...
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CST
ICART, Louis (French, 1888-1950). Nude Woman Reclining. Cir...
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Est: $400- $600
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KIPNISS, Robert (b. 1931). Interiors & Backyards. Chicago: ...
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CST
KIPNISS, Robert (b. 1931). Interiors & Backyards. Chicago: ...
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DALI, Salvador (Spanish, 1904-1989). “Manhattan Skyline”. 1...
Dec 01, 10:00 AM CST
DALI, Salvador (Spanish, 1904-1989). “Manhattan Skyline”. 1...
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Sellers Who Sell Exhibition Posters


Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

KCM Galleries

KCM Galleries

Art Atelier

Art Atelier

TGP Auction

TGP Auction