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"Centenaire Decouverte"


Adolfo Hohenstein
15 3/4'' x 11 3/8''

Original chromo-lithograph from Les Maîtres de l'Affiche, Plate 160

By the end of the 19th century, the fruits of the Industrial Revolution had transformed the everyday lives of Europeans and Americans alike. Bedazzled by brighter gaslights, the first communication devices and the taming of electricity, an optimistic future shines forth from the advertisements of the period. These powerful and uncertain forces are negotiated visually with a return to mythical design motifs drawing from ancient Grecian and Roman styles as well as natural elements. In their harnessing of energy and invention, this age of technological progress saw itself as heir to the great civilizations of the past.

This poster embraces the future by harkening back to the past. To commemorate the invention of the first electric battery by Alessandro Volta, for whom volts and voltage are named, two mythical women place a wreath around his portrait. With power lines and cables forming a backdrop, the women hold a weaving shuttlecock and a washboard— symbols of manual labor now rendered obsolete. They seem to say, “Let’s celebrate 100 years of electricity by pretending we don’t have it.”



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