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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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ROY LICHTENSTEIN SEATTLE ART MUSEUM POSTER, 1976
Apr 14, 2:00 PM PDT
ROY LICHTENSTEIN SEATTLE ART MUSEUM POSTER, 1976
by District Auction
Est: $50- $100
$806 Bids
Advertising Poster Picasso Cubism Exhibition The Young Ladies of Avignon
Apr 20, 2:00 PM BST
Advertising Poster Picasso Cubism Exhibition The Young Ladies of Avignon
by Antikbar Original Vintage Posters
Est: £90- £180
£652 Bids
Damien Hirst (b.1965) Cherry Blossoms
Apr 24, 1:00 PM BST
Damien Hirst (b.1965) Cherry Blossoms
by Forum Auctions - UK
Est: £300- £500
£3002 Bids
PICASSO LITHOGRAPH GALLERY EXHIBITION POSTER 1951
Apr 14, 2:00 PM PDT
PICASSO LITHOGRAPH GALLERY EXHIBITION POSTER 1951
by District Auction
Est: $50- $100
$352 Bids
Grupo 8
Apr 25, 3:00 PM UYT
Grupo 8
by Zorrilla Subastas
Est: $200- $300
$1502 Bids
Hajo Rose - Zwei Ausstellungsplakate, 1976/78
Apr 20, 3:00 PM CEST
Hajo Rose - Zwei Ausstellungsplakate, 1976/78
by Kunstauktionshaus Leipzig
Est: €0- €0
€2001 Bid
Original 1940 New York World´s Fair Poster Ekmar Art
Apr 20, 10:00 AM PDT
Original 1940 New York World´s Fair Poster Ekmar Art
by PosterConnection Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$2501 Bid
Advertising Poster Le Message Biblique Marc Chagall
Apr 20, 2:00 PM BST
Advertising Poster Le Message Biblique Marc Chagall
by Antikbar Original Vintage Posters
Est: £90- £180
£601 Bid
Advertising Poster Jacob Kramer Art Exhibition Leeds
Apr 20, 2:00 PM BST
Advertising Poster Jacob Kramer Art Exhibition Leeds
by Antikbar Original Vintage Posters
Est: £90- £180
£601 Bid
Raúl Pavlotzky
Apr 25, 3:00 PM UYT
Raúl Pavlotzky
by Zorrilla Subastas
Est: $200- $300
$1501 Bid
Advertising Poster Francis Bacon Bullfighting Grand Palais Art Exhibition
Apr 20, 2:00 PM BST
Advertising Poster Francis Bacon Bullfighting Grand Palais Art Exhibition
by Antikbar Original Vintage Posters
Est: £90- £180
£601 Bid
Advertising Poster Science Museum London Undergrounf Kensington Steam Locomotive
Apr 20, 2:00 PM BST
Advertising Poster Science Museum London Undergrounf Kensington Steam Locomotive
by Antikbar Original Vintage Posters
Est: £240- £480
£1601 Bid
Advertising Poster Orchard Hommage A Teriade Marc Chagall
Apr 20, 2:00 PM BST
Advertising Poster Orchard Hommage A Teriade Marc Chagall
by Antikbar Original Vintage Posters
Est: £90- £180
£601 Bid
SIGNED MUSEE NATIONAL POSTER BY MARC CHAGALL (BELARUSIAN-FRENCH 1887-1985)
Apr 27, 10:00 AM EDT
SIGNED MUSEE NATIONAL POSTER BY MARC CHAGALL (BELARUSIAN-FRENCH 1887-1985)
by Shapiro Auctions LLC
Est: $600- $800
$251 Bid
3 PILCHUCK SCHOOL ART GLASS POSTERS 1970'S & 80'S
Apr 14, 2:00 PM PDT
3 PILCHUCK SCHOOL ART GLASS POSTERS 1970'S & 80'S
by District Auction
Est: $50- $100
$251 Bid
ANDY WARHOL SEATTLE ART MUSEUM (SAM) POSTER, 1976
Apr 14, 2:00 PM PDT
ANDY WARHOL SEATTLE ART MUSEUM (SAM) POSTER, 1976
by District Auction
Est: $50- $100
$251 Bid
After Marcel Duchamp Exhibition Poster, circa 1968
May 14, 11:00 AM EDT
After Marcel Duchamp Exhibition Poster, circa 1968
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $200- $400
$501 Bid
3 X Roy Lichtenstein Cartel triptychon, Cow van abstra
Apr 21, 10:15 PM CEST
3 X Roy Lichtenstein Cartel triptychon, Cow van abstra
by Novartia
Est: €800- €1,200
€3501 Bid
Joan Miro 1893-1983 Modern Museum Framed Poster
Apr 17, 12:00 PM EDT
Joan Miro 1893-1983 Modern Museum Framed Poster
by MiddleManBrokers
Est: $1- $1,000
$11 Bid
MIHAIL CHEMIAKIN RUSSIAN ARTIST PROOF LITHOGRAPH
Apr 20, 10:00 AM EDT
MIHAIL CHEMIAKIN RUSSIAN ARTIST PROOF LITHOGRAPH
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$501 Bid
Russian Equestrian Troupe Circus Poster. Circa 1930s. Color...
May 16, 10:00 AM CDT
Russian Equestrian Troupe Circus Poster. Circa 1930s. Color...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$2001 Bid
Ernest Trova, St. Louis, Missouri (1927-2009), Trova at Pace/ Columbus, Framed lithograph
Apr 20, 10:00 AM CDT
Ernest Trova, St. Louis, Missouri (1927-2009), Trova at Pace/ Columbus, Framed lithograph
by Link Auction Galleries
Est: $150- $250
$751 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Exhibition Posters


Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

Antikbar Original Vintage Posters

Antikbar Original Vintage Posters

Auktionshaus Schwab

Auktionshaus Schwab

Robinhood Auctions

Robinhood Auctions