This is the third post published in “Graphic Pioneers” about different creative aspects of Manolo Prieto’s work. We previously referred to the series of covers that he designed for “Novels and Stories” (see previous post) or the illustrations collected in the book “Toros en El Puerto” (see previous post); this time we are going to examine his way of conceiving the advertising poster and, specifically, posters advertising theatrical productions.

“I have no choice but to speak in images with examples of simplicity, fairness and graphic expression.” This statement by Manolo Prieto regarding his way of working could be completed with another statement that referred specifically to the poster: if it is not well composed, “whoever sees it experiences an annoying sensation without being able to explain the reason”.

There is unanimity regarding Manolo Prieto’s role in igniting a renaissance of the toreo poster and the aesthetics of bullfighting, following a period in which he and others had slavishly followed the style inaugurated by Roberto Domingo. Begoña Torres, in a text included in the catalogue of the exhibition “Manolo Prieto and the Osborne Bull”, wrote that “from the purely plastic point of view, the posters of Manolo Prieto are resolved with a maximum degree of synthetism and schematism”. This view could be applied equally to the series of posters that Prieto designed, mostly throughout the 1950s, for the theatre and in general to all his graphic production.

“The good poster must attract for its beauty, retain for its intention, convince for its message, and then release with a smile, if possible.” This was Prieto’s approach as a creator of posters for theatrical productions, and he adhered to it rigorously most of the time. As the graphic designer himself described it, his creative process began by handling the odds and ends that were in his “box of delights” where he kept scraps of all the devices that had been broken in his house, screws of all kinds and sizes, lids of boxes, broken electrical plugs, pieces of pens, washers, springs, buttons, the occasional whistle, etc. From that beginning in which he dedicated himself “to stirring up, looking at everything as new”, the sketch emerged, in his opinion the most important of the work.

“A sketch is not a form of drawing anymore. Only the artist knows that the purest and non-transferable essence of the finished work lies within him.” With this conviction, Prieto created a few tiny sketches as guideposts to his perception.

In the series of theatrical posters displayed in this post you can see some particular examples of the transition from the sketch to the poster, according to the particular sequence of work and intentions with which Manolo Prieto laboured.