The Hotel Lungarno offers an itinerary designed to provide an overview of the birth of modern advertising through four significant figures. They accompany us from the creation of the poster in the end of 1800’s to the Italian pop era of the 1960’s.


To think about an imageless world seems impossible today. Graphic design is a vital tool for mass communication and plays a central role in the economy and culture of our society.

We begin this journey talking about the father of the modern poster, Jules Cheret, who was among the first to realize the importance of the image at the expense of text.

His is a tale of the modern self-made man born in a very poor Parisian family. His dream was to be an artist was thanks to Eugene Rimmel,  the founder of one of the largest cosmetics companies in the world.  Rimmel recognized an artist who could celebrate his products through illustration to the general public.

Through this collaboration, Cheret was an innovator of the Belle Époque – an example of how commisioned art is important and does not merely represent, but can also enhance and communicate.

Free to explore his fantasies, he designed copious manifests, including various posters for the Moulin Rouge. His favorite subjects were joyful and lively women, he became known as the “Father of Liberation.” His innovative art was admired by Degas + Monet, and it was included in their private art collections.

In Italy, the evolution of the graphic design is found in the work of Lucio Venna, and Italian painter and member of the Futurist movement. Of Austrian origin, he moved to Florence at 15 years old. In a period of great turmoil, he became part of the artists circuit together with Ottone Rosai, and many others who are present in Hotel Lungarnos “Top 5” collection

Venna draws and paints,  immediately taken by the ideology of the Futurist movement, with which, however, remained disappointed. He harbored dissatisfaction mixed with intense activity, and he decided to devote himself to creating posters while maintaining the link to the creative quality of Futurism. He produced in his advertising studio Venna Creations posters, billboards, and important branding. In that time, Salvatore Ferragamo opened his own atelier and commissioned Venna his first advertising campaign and label with the fashion house, still revered today as the symbol of an era.

The post war economic boom and the spread of consumerism brought artists to interpret and experience new tastes. This moment in history influenced Raoul Shultz, a young innovator, painter, graphic artist and stage designer. This eclectic artist had a short but intense creative adventure. He was an irreverent character.  As an explorer of Italian and International artistic movements – he was the only to propose the “Painting Meter” (a roll of approximately 6 meters in length by 60 centimeters in width)  or testify the sacrilegious intention to counteract any market logic. In the early 60’s, he lived in Venice and released his creative spirit through literature, illustration, and cinema. He was part of an important partnership with Hugo Pratt and director Tinto Brass, who remembers him thus: “Raoul … was unquestionably the most radical in his choices, but instinctual … a true artist, but not an intellectual in art …”

Shultz’s life was dynamic and fast-paced, interrupted by his untimely death at the age forty.

The United States of America in the early 60’s was penetrated with new products and a new pattern of life.  Elements of communication soon become the object of attention and the subject  of pop art.

Adolfo Natalini, was one of the young artists to give life to the local variant of the movement founded in the USA.

Today, Natalini is defined as an architect, yet during the short yet important experience as an artist, he fused architecture with painting, which was fundamental in his development.

He recounts:

“In 1964, my graduation speaker … asked to see my paintings and said that he refused to destroy a good painter by turning him into a bad architect”

But this did not happen. Natalini became a great architect, moving from art to radical architecture with Superstudio, working on projects which were widely published and displayed all over the world, leaving the visible traces of their thoughts.

They were exhibited in galleries including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Deutsches Architekturtmuseum Frankfurt am Main, and the Center Pompidou Paris.

Since 1991 Adolfo Natalini has been fully dedicated to architecture, working on prestigious projects for the city of Florence, such as the redevelopment of the Uffizi Gallery, the expansion of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo as well as many others.