Berman and Stieglitz Galleries, Ground Floor
In the mid 1950s, William H. Helfand began to collect prints with medical subjects, gradually moving his focus from fine to popular art. Over four decades, he has donated more than one thousand posters, prints, and ephemera to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This exhibition presents some fifty of the nearly two hundred posters in this collection. A selection of the posters show the work of prominent artists such as JulesChéret (French, 1836–1932) and Leonetto Cappiello (French, born Italy, 1875–1942). Chéret's large, colorful lithographs—achieved by printing from multiple stones—elevated the commercial placard to the rank of art. Cappiello's arresting figures, which he silhouetted against neutral backgrounds and linked to the product being advertised, revolutionized twentieth-century poster design. Additional examples demonstrate the wide range of compositions produced by unidentified artists working in Europe and the United States between the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These posters address a wide range of topics, such as promoting hygiene, announcing medical conferences, and advertising miracle cures.
Organized to pay tribute to William Helfand's generous gifts and his more than forty years on the Museum's Committee for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, this exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated publication by Innis Howe Shoemaker, The Audrey and William H. Helfand Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; John Ittmann, The Kathy and Ted Fernberger Curator of Prints; and William H. Helfand. The exhibition coincides with several international medical conventions in Philadelphia scheduled during April and May 2011.
Innis Howe Shoemaker, The Audrey and William H. Helfand Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; John Ittmann, The Kathy and Ted Fernberger Curator of Prints