Italy has produced some of cinema’s most striking moments as well as a rich cavalcade of writers, producers, directors and stars whose work has been acclaimed as classics of their kind, not only within Italy but also internationally. This exhibition of posters offered an insight into the most important and innovative periods of Italian cinema, and paid homage to the artists and designers who created them.

The film poster has its own cultural heritage, not only as a supporting document for the history of cinema, but also as a record of our times as social trends are mirrored and challenged on screen. Highly collectable and often recognised as an art for in its own right, the film poster has come a long way since its early beginnings, when it was simply destroyed after the film’s run.

The cinema poster is often the first visual contact for a film, a synthesis between art and market, capable of establishing audience anticipation, highlighting the star quality of the leads and establishing the film’s genre. Cinema Italia used these iconic posters to follow Italian cinema from its early mythological films, through filmmaking under Mussolini to the development of neorealism and the creative peak of the 1960s, before ending with the troubled political times of the 1970s.

The exhibition was organised in collaboration with the British Film Institute, and received support from the Museo Nazionale del Cinema in Turin and the Massimo and Sonia Cirulli Archive in New York.

Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau on the set of La Notte by Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960 © Sergio Strizzi Photography

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Pasquarosa, Vase of Flowers, c. 1916

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