London remembers the hazy days of 1960s alcohol advertising with Campari

Campari l’aperitivo, by Marcello Nizzoli, 1925
Campari l’aperitivo, by Marcello Nizzoli, 1925
(Image credit: courtesy of Archivio Galleria Campari, Milan)

This summer, London’s Estorick Collection is serving a tall glass of visual history. In ‘The Art of Campari’, the Canonbury Square gallery traces the bitter elixir’s pioneering approach to advertising. Drawn from Campari’s extensive archives in Milan, the show spans the original Belle Époque posters, through its revolutionary campaigns of the 1920s, culminating in the elegant designs of the 1960s.

The storied ruby-red aperitivo has a rich heritage in creativity and design. Founded in Milan in 1860 by Gaspare Campari (1828-1882), it was under his son Davide Campari (1867-1936) that the company pursued a more dynamic approach to marketing, harnessing the emerging power of the poster. Aiming to create a sophisticated brand profile, by the early 1900s Campari was working with some of the most celebrated poster designers of the day: Leonetto Cappiello, Marcello Dudovich, Adolf Hohenstein, and Marcello Nizzoli.

Bitter Campari (Lo Spiritello), by Leonetto Cappiello, 1921

Bitter Campari (Lo Spiritello), by Leonetto Cappiello, 1921

(Image credit: courtesy of Archivio Galleria Campari, Milan)

Initially attuned to an art nouveau sensibility, it was the visual punch of campaigns created by futurist artist Fortunato Depero that became Campari’s most celebrated commissions, from the mid-1920s onwards. Populated by his trademark puppet-like characters, Depero’s bold, witty and geometric designs modernised Campari’s look, creating an unmistakable identity that remains with it to this day. Depero’s perceptive belief that the publicity poster would be ‘the painting of the future’ continued to be reflected in Campari’s post-war commissions, and many of his original designs have been repurposed on contemporary labels, helping Campari achieve its nostalgic, tipple-of-yesterday aesthetic.

Like the Campari recipe of bitter herbs and aromatic plants (which remains unchanged since its 1860s inception) the brand’s graphic identity has been consistent in its commitment to glamour and artfulness. Each poster in the collection emits a timelessness, matched by the Milanese malt.

Chase-up your trip to ‘The Art of Campari’ with a Negroni at one of our handpicked London cocktail bars...

Campari, by Leonetto Cappiello, 1921

Campari, by Leonetto Cappiello, 1921

(Image credit: courtesy of Archivio Galleria Campari, Milan)

A pair of 1960s Campari advertising posters

Left, Campari Soda è sempre giovane!, 1960s, by Franz Marangolo. Right, Campari Soda corre col tempo!, by Franz Marangolo, 1960s

(Image credit: courtesy of Archivio Galleria Campari, Milan)

Bitter Campari, by Adolf Hohenstein, 1901

Bitter Campari, by Adolf Hohenstein, 1901

(Image credit: courtesy of Archivio Galleria Campari, Milan)

black and white illustration

Left, Distrattamente mise il Bitter Campari in testa, He Distractedly put the Bitter Campari on His Head Ink on Paper, by Fortunato Depero, 1928Right, Con un occhio vidi un Cordial con un altro un Bitter Campari, With one Eye I saw a Cordial with Another a Bitter Campari, by Fortunato Depero, 1928

(Image credit: courtesy of Archivio Galleria Campari, Milan)

Cordial Campari liquor, by Marcello Nizzoli, 1926

Cordial Campari liquor, by Marcello Nizzoli, 1926

(Image credit: courtesy of Archivio Galleria Campari, Milan)

Until 16 September. For more information, visit the Esoterik Collection website


39A Canonbury Square
London, N1 2AN


Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.