Since its very first edition in 1919, the Barcelona Car Show –today Automobile Barcelona– has never failed to provide surprises, to keep pace and change with the times and the innovations taking place in wider society and, naturally, in the automotive sector itself. Every edition held over the last century has been accompanied by a complement that has acquired its own status as the emblem of the Show: the poster, as the artistic expression of the message that Barcelona’s car event wants to communicate to the world.

Poster of the International Barcelona Car Show in 1919

Despite being a biennial event, the interruptions provoked by the wars in the first half of the 20th century mean that there have only been 40 editions, so there are 40 posters in all, and they reveal how poster design has gradually changed over the years. The poster for the very first car show may well be the most “social” of them all, because it depicts people being driven in a car, and the chauffeur at the wheel, so that the car itself is a secondary concern.

Human figures do not not entirely disappear from the poster design until the 1933 edition.

A major change occurs in the style of the posters from 1966 (remember that 30 years have passed since the previous event took place, due to wars and a long post-war period) when the forms become much “simpler” but there is an accumulation of content, especially towards the end of the 1960s. The poster for the 1967 edition stands out in particular: just four lines that shape the universe of the car sector: driver and vehicle.

Everything changes in 1968, when the Barcelona Car Show is recognised by the international body OICA (Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles), as the poster makes very clear. The hard work and dedication of the two previous editions led to this result. The image of a key to highlight the international nature of the car show became the principal feature of the poster from 1968.

Despite the petrol crises of the early 1970s, the posters from this decade are notable for their simple colourful designs, many of which seem to draw inspiration from the posters for Hollywood films created by artists such as Saul Bass. The poster from 1979 is a great example of this.

Posters in blue and green

The poster for 1997 was a watershed in the look of these posters. A planet covered by clouds in the shape of cars was a sign of the significant changes in technology and ecology that were taking place in society and industry. It may be that the launch of the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, the Toyota Prius, had a lot to do with the poster design.

Blue and green begin to dominate the posters for the years following this edition, in representation of the environment and mobility (the latter being particularly prominent in the poster for the 2011 edition), and afterwards charting the focus on connectivity. The connected city.

The central theme of the 2019 edition, the most important in the history of the event, shows the changes in cars and their design: the rear of the vehicle represents the past, the retrospective image of our history, while the front part shows the present and future of the sector. In short, the hundred years of a Car Show that is part of our lives