Cycles et Automobiles Legia
In the foreground we see a female figure who, despite wearing sporty clothes, transmits an image of elegance and sophistication, two of the characteristics that define a certain type and look of the period. The Art Nouveau style, of which Gaudy’s poster is an exemplar, clearly shows the influence of the Japanese print. This can be seen in the lack of the use of perspective to give the feeling of spatial depth.
Also perceptible is the use of a very thick line for the female figure’s outline, a resource that brings to mind the cloisonné technique used in enamelling. All these visual references place the poster in the context of the late nineteenth century, a period that witnessed the phenomenal spread and internationalization of the Modernista movement.
Belgium became one of the main centres from which this repertoire spread and the poster was turned into one of the most successful media for transmitting advertising messages. In this respect, both the bicycle and the automobile became motifs heavily resorted to by every poster artist of the period, given that, as in this example, factories began to appear all over Europe producing both means of transport. However, the artist advertises the brand by using a dramatic effect: he contrasts the coexistence of the old means of transport, represented by the bicycle, with the new, represented by an open-top automobile. The couple in it is drawn much smaller than the cyclist. She observes them with what seems like a look of superiority and contempt, as she contemplates the ironic image of a vehicle moving surprisingly slowly, despite heralding the arrival of a new age in which the car was to become one of the best-known and most popular icons, eventually reaching undreamed-of speeds.
The Belgian painter and poster artist Georges Gaudy, who drew this poster, was noted for specializing in this kind of production, so much so that all his posters in the collection of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya advertise bicycle and automobile factories.
This work has been selected for the project 'Partage Plus – Digitising and Enabling Art Nouveau for Europeana'
95.2 x 64.2 cm
Plandiura Collection, purchased 1903