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5 Designers Behind the Celebrated Campari Poster Art

  • Franz Marangolo - Bitter Campari
September 1, 2018
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

A number of manufacturers of various goods have invested in good graphic design in order to sell their products better. In particular, the enterprises producing alcoholic beverages are known for hiring high profile designers to release easy recognizable and staggering images which best represent the feeling of enjoyment, flavor and the style which the drink offers. One of the best-known examples of such graphic design are the famous Campari Art Posters.

Before we come to the artists responsible for these magnificent designs, it is mandatory to pose a couple of facts concerning this particular medium. Namely, the historical rise of graphic design is quite long, yet this particular art form, which encompasses typography, photography and illustration, started blossoming in the second half of 19th and beginning of the 20th century within the Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau. The curiosity is that the very term graphic design was introduced in an essay New Kind of Printing Calls for New Design written by an American book designer William Addison Dwiggins in 1922.

Initially, the medium was used as a utilitarian tool for visual communication with the society and was not considered a legitimate art branch. Nevertheless, with the development of the early market it became increasingly present and was used to visually enhance a certain product. Still, it managed to keep a high artistic domain.

Branding The Campari Poster Art

The Campari company was founded in Milan in 1860 by Gaspare Campari and it worked continuously on creating a recognizable image within the market. The recipe of the ruby red liquor was made in Novara the same year, and it consists of bitter herbs, aromatic plants, and fruit in alcohol and water.

The person responsible for introducing modern marketing approach to the company was Davide Campari (1867-1936), who started collaborating with the trendiest designers of the time such as Marcello Nizzoli, Leonetto Cappiello, and Adolf Hohenstein. The most celebrated Campari commissions happened during the 1920s with the Futurist artist Fortunato Depero, who believed that the publicity poster would be the painting of the future. That spirit reflected on the post-war commissions with Pop and witty designs by Franz Marangolo and Bruno Munari, who embodied through their posters the spirit of the Swinging Sixties.

Campari Posters at Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art

Currently in London, an exhibition titled The Art of Campari is on display. Consisting of designs and posters by some of the most influential artists who worked for the company, as well as crates, glasses, bottles, plaques and other ephemera, this showcase tends to show the visual history of the iconic ruby-red aperitif from Belle Epoque, through the 1920s, and up to the 1960s.

Furthermore, by showing artifacts from the extensive Campari archives in Milan, the institution is eager to accentuate the significance of the pioneering advertising activity of the company in global terms and its overall contribution to the development of graphic design.

The Art of Campari, a print and poster collection, will be on display at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in London until 16 September 2018.

We have made a list of five artists whose contributions to Campari branding are the most important.

Featured image: Franz Marangolo – Bitter Campari, 1960s. Mixed media. All images courtesy of Archivio Galleria Campari, Milan

  • Adolf Hohenstein - Bitter Campari

Adolf Hohenstein

Adolfo Hohenstein was a German painter considered as the founding father of Stile Liberty, the Italian version of Art Nouveau. His contribution to advertising and illustration are immense, especially the imagery Hohenstein produced for clients such as Campari, Buitoni and Corriere della Sera.

This renowned art figure worked as a costume designer for La Scala and other theaters, where he met Giulio Ricordi in 1889 and began working for him as the artistic director. Hohenstein produced posters for many operas, as well as scenarios and wardrobes.

Along with Leonetto Cappiello, Marcello Dudovich, and Giovanni Mario Mataloni, and he is celebrated as one of the most important Italian designers.

Featured image: Adolf Hohenstein – Bitter Campari, 1901.

  • Leonetto Cappiello - Campari
  • Leonetto Cappiello - Bitter Campari (Lo Spiritello)

Leonetto Cappiello

Leonetto Cappiello was an Italian born French painter and poster art designer who lived and worked in Paris during the majority of his life. He is often saluted as the father of modern advertising due to innovation and high level of creativity.

By introducing bold figures coming out of the black backgrounds, Cappiello distinguished himself from his predecessors and brought a layer of humor which coincided with his career as a caricaturist. Cappiello’s poster art career is dated in 1900 when he started collaborating intensively with the printer Pierre Vercasson.

Featured image: Leonetto Cappiello – Campari, 1921 Lithographic color print on paper

  • Marcello Nizzoli - Campari l’aperitivo
  • Marcello Nizzoli - Cordial Campari liquor

Marcello Nizzoli

Marcello Nizzoli was an Italian artist best known for his work as an industrial and graphic designer. He worked for the Olivetti company as a chief designer for several decades and was responsible for the iconic Lettera 22 portable typewriters in the 1950s.

Nizzoli graduated from the Accademia di Belle Arti of Parma in 1913 and started working as a draughtsman in Milan until World War I. The artist was very much influenced by Futurism, and especially the work of Fortunato Depero. During the years, Nizolli even designed fashion accessories such as handbags and shawls, as well as poster advertisements for brands such as Campari and Martini.

Featured image: Marcello Nizzoli – Campari l’aperitivo (Campari the Aperitif), 1925. Lithographic colour print on paper.

  • Fortunatno Depero - Con un occhio vidi un Cordial

Fortunato Depero

Around the year 1914, Fortunato Depero moved to Rome where he met the Futurist Giacomo Balla. A year later, the two of them together wrote the manifesto Ricostruzione futurista dell’universo (Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe). In 1919, Depero established what he called Casa d’Arte Futurista (House of Futurist Art) in Rovereto, an enterprise specialized in toys, tapestries, and furniture.

The artist represented the Futurists at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts) in 1925. Three years later he moved to New York and gained a commercial success designing costumes for stage productions and designing covers for magazines including MovieMaker.

During the 1930s he continued producing in Italy, and his drawings were used as the basis of the famous conical Campari Soda bottle, launched in 1932.

Featured image: Fortunato Depero – Con un occhio vidi un Cordial con un altro un Bitter Campari (With one Eye I saw a Cordial with Another a Bitter Campari Ink on Paper), 1928

  • Franz Marangolo - Campari Soda è sempre giovane

Franz Marangolo

Last but not the least is Franz Marangolo, a prolific designer who came to prominence by working for clients such as Fiat, La Rinascente, and Martini e Rossi. His most celebrated advertisement posters are the ones he created in the 1950s and 1960s for Campari.

Marangolo’s legendary designs were simple, communicative and embodied the spirit of the time. His fashionable illustrations evoke the glossy images from Marie Claire or Vogue as well as certain Pop – art motifs and were witty and cheerful which was embraced by the wider population with complete thrill.

Featured image: Franz Marangolo – Campari Soda è sempre giovane! (Campari Soda is always Young!), 1960s. Mixed media