Barcelona Cultura

«Beyond its artistic aspects, we want to show a way of experiencing and understanding the world»

What was the genesis of "The Advertising Boom. Tin, Cardboard and Tile Posters. 1890-1950"? What was the process of creating the exhibition like?

It is an exhibition within the framework of activities dedicated to graphic design that we have been developing throughout 2018. In this case, it focuses on the advertising "posters" (as the title says made of tin, cardboard and tiles) dating from the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century, because this was the stage when, with industrialisation, the need arose to publicise and advertise a range of products. That is, industrialisation and advertising go hand in hand. And if this is true, in the graphic field, we can add the development of chromolithography (a graphic reproduction procedure that allowed the printing of coloured posters) or with the ceramics, the innovative technique of "tub lining" which made for attractive coloured adverts which had a great commercial effect.

Who is Mateu Llinàs and how important is his collection to the new exhibition at the Museu del Disseny?

He is a collector from Barcelona and a communication professional, and so is someone who knows what to select when making a collection. From a very young age he was seduced by this whole world, especially on tin and cardboard media, and he has lent us a good part of his collection.

However, this exhibition is multi-vocal, and we have also had the participation of the Manises Museum of Ceramics (which has lent us commercial ceramic panels) and the Badalona Museum, which has provided its knowledge about the tin chromolithography (Badalona was a specialist manufacturing centre for these materials).

Why the title of the exhibition? What do you want to show?

One of the main objectives of this exhibition, created from a perspective of heritage, is to show how, through collectors and the care for the heritage taken by museums, these materials, which were once considered ephemeral, have over time become cultural heritage, everyone's heritage.

Their communicative, artistic and graphic design dimensions, as well as their social dimension (they tell us a lot about a particular time, an era) mean that today they are considered cultural heritage, and this is one of the aspects that we at the Museu del Disseny are most interested in showing.

Which piece or pieces in the exhibition do you consider most special or representative?

In reality, all the pieces have their "charm", it is difficult to separate them. But it is true that there are some signs that are very notable of their time. Many pieces lasted for many decades, and some still survive, adapted for the present day. I think that the figure of the butler announcing a metal cleaning product (Netol) is one of the most representative pieces that for some people will bring back many memories.

These types of product, like the characters that advertise champagne or food products, are images that tell us of a way of thinking about and experiencing the world. Nowadays, many of these images would seem politically incorrect to us, but at that time and for many decades they were, as we’ve said, very representative of a way of living and of advertising many products in everyday life, in order to sell them to a wider audience.


Do you think there is potential in Barcelona and Catalonia to expand the collection with new pieces in different materials?

In Barcelona and Catalonia there are many collections based around the world of advertising, whether commercial or not, and around the posters and "packaging." This exhibition has been focused on materials and material supports other than the conventional paper poster: tin, paper on cardboard cut-outs which becomes three-dimensional, and ceramic tiles.

There are many collections of these materials all over Catalonia, because our country was an industrialised country, which very much needed this advertising to sell the new products. The brands needed to make themselves known and to persuade us of the goodness of the products, and today we can recover all this heritage thanks to the work of collectors and researchers in recent years. Barcelona and Catalonia, as has been said, is a country of great graphic design and advertising collectors.

What would you say to potential visitors in order to encourage them to visit "The Advertising Boom. Tin, Cardboard and Tile Posters. 1890-1950"?

I would call on everyone to go to the Museu del Disseny from 14th December. The older ones: because they will see things they’ll remember and because they will see how they expressed themselves decades ago. The younger ones: because they will discover these means of expression and future professionals who’ll be inspired to analyse them and draw out the implications of them.

It’s an exhibition that we have designed with the intention of reaching all audiences, to be very intimate and familiar, and which serves to show the techniques of what was called "street art" in its day, an innovative concept at the beginning of the twentieth century. They will also be able to discover cartoonists and illustrators specialising in this aspect of advertising, the first to do so, and which companies were the first to understand the benefits of advertising.

The exhibition is divided into 12 fields by areas of consumption, which allows us to see diverse products and learn how all the sectors used advertising.

And with the programme of activities organised around the exhibition, in which prominent professionals and scholars will be taking part, we can also critically reflect on the role of advertising in a time far removed from us today, as pointed out in the last text of the exhibition.

Ajuntament de Barcelona