Best Of 2020

Best Cincy-Centric Poster Art Show: "Magic & Melodrama: Cincinnati Posters from the Gilded Age"

Best Cincy-Centric Poster Art Show
click to enlarge "The Wizard of Oz" 1904 color lithograph - PHOTO: FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY OF CINCINNATI AND HAMILTON COUNTY
Photo: From the collection of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
"The Wizard of Oz" 1904 color lithograph

Last summer’s L’Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters at the Taft Museum of Art was an excellent traveling show — work came from Chicago’s Richard H. Driehaus Museum. But to roughly coincide with it, the Taft’s curatorial assistant Angela Fuller, with help from assistant curator Ann Glasscock, put together a local poster exhibit that, even with just seven objects, matched the larger show in impact and memorability. Borrowing from The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s collection, their Magic & Melodrama: Cincinnati Posters from the Gilded Age used theatrical posters produced around the turn of the 20th century by Cincinnati’s fabled Strobridge Lithographic Co. At a time when multi-color non-photographic posters were the principal way to lure customers to see spectacularly fanciful live entertainment, Strobridge had an international reputation for its work. The exhibit, which ran from May 3 to Aug. 18, featured such work as the gorgeous poster promoting a 1904 live production of The Wizard of Oz. A woozy Dorothy, under the hallucinogenic spell of a forest of poppies, is pulled to her feet by the Tin Man and the Scarecrow while others doze. Another poster, from the 1880s, depicts renderings of lovable dogs in a pyramid formation to promote a presentation of Professor Morris’ 30-dog stage attraction. In 2011, the Cincinnati Art Museum featured Strobridge’s circus posters; this showed that we just can’t get enough of the company. How about a whole Strobridge Museum? Taft Museum of Art, 316 Pike St., Downtown, taftmuseum.org.