Movie Poster of the Week: The Film Posters of Cruz Novillo

More than thirty years of movie posters from a titan of Spanish graphic design.
Adrian Curry
Above: Spanish poster by José María Cruz Novillo for The Garden of Delights (Carlos Saura, Spain, 1970).
When the great Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura died in February at the age of 90, I searched through his posters to find a suitable piece to post as a tribute and came across several very stylized, diagrammatic designs for his early ’70s films. They turned out to be the work of José María Cruz Novillo, an artist I surprisingly hadn't been aware of previously, but who, I have since found out, is a titan of Spanish graphic design.
Above: José María Cruz Novillo (right) with his son Pepe in front of a wall of his film posters. Photo: Fernando Sánchez.
Cruz Novillo, who is still working at the age of 86 (in partnership with his architect son Pepe), could rightfully be called the Saul Bass of Spain. Like Bass, he excels in both film marketing and logo design. Since 1957 he has designed so many corporate logos that it is hard to imagine that there are any companies or organizations in Spain that didn't have a Cruz Novillo logo at one time. He designed the peseta bank notes in the late ’70s and then, when those were phased out in 2002, he designed the new Euro notes. A 2019 documentary about Cruz Novillo is titled The Man Who Designed Spain (and naturally he designed the poster for it).
Above: some of Cruz Novillo’s logo designs.
Above: Cruz Novillo’s logo for the PSOE or the Socialist Party of Spain, designed in 1977.
With the exception of the bank notes, which of necessity have to be graphically complex, Cruz Novillo’s work is recognizably simple, bold, clear, and playful. He prefers to work with thick black lines, a grid of circles and squares—as can be seen in the layout above of his PSOE logo—and, when it is called for, bright primary colors. He has talked about being in constant search for the balance between “maximum formal simplicity and maximum conceptual complexity.”
He is also known for his many series of match boxes which feature beautifully stylized, colorful drawings of animals. (It came as no surprise to me that the designer Sam Smith is a huge fan of these.)
Above: ABC Animal series of match books designed in 1968.
Cruz Novillo is also a painter, a sculptor, and a sound designer who has been exhibiting his artwork since 1972. In 2010 he premiered what has been called the longest work of art in the world, his Diafragma dodecafónico 8.916.100.448.256, opus 14, a “transcription for English horn of a piece originally created for piano,” which generates a unique and unrepeatable audiovisual work every 12 seconds and which will run for 3,390,410 years, 31 days, 11 hours, 31 minutes and 12 seconds. It can be seen and heard at
His best movie posters are very much in the style of his other work, often distilling the essence of a film into a logo-like ideogram. I’m less fond of the more photo-based work that he did from the mid-’80s onwards, but at their best his posters are indelibly striking and modern. He made posters for almost every Carlos Saura film from the late ’60s through the ’80s, but he also designed for Víctor Erice, Luis García Berlanga, and a number of other major Spanish auteurs.
I present the best of his posters in chronological order below. You can see him gradually finding his distinct style around 1969 with Saura’s Honeycomb.
Much more of Cruz Novillo’s work can be seen at his company Cruz más Cruz’s website And there is an online store where many of his works can be purchased as t-shirts, prints and mugs. I highly recommend a visit.
Above: El rapto de T.T. (José Luis Viloria, Spain, 1964).
Above: Peppermint Frappé (Carlos Saura, Spain, 1967).
Above: The Last Meeting (Antonio Eceiza, Spain, 1967).
Above: Stress is Three (Carlos Saura, Spain, 1968).
Above: Honeycomb (Carlos Saura, Spain, 1969).
Above: The Challenges (Claudio Guerin, José Luis Egea, Víctor Erice, Spain, 1969).
Above: Why Does Your Husband Deceive You? (Manuel Summers, Spain, 1969).
Above: Las secretas intenciones (Antonio Eceiza, Spain, 1970).
Above: The Spirit of the Beehive (Víctor Erice, Spain, 1973).
Above: Speak, Little Mute Girl (Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, Spain, 1973).
Above: Anna and the Wolves (Carlos Saura, Spain, 1973).
Above: Cousin Angelica (Carlos Saura, Spain, 1974).
Above: B Must Die (José Luis Borau, Spain, 1975).
Above: Cria cuervos... (Carlos Saura, Spain, 1976).
Above: Pascual Duarte (Ricardo Franco, Spain, 1976).
Above: Elisa, My Life (Carlos Saura, Spain, 1977).
Above: Mama Turns 100 (Carlos Saura, Spain, 1977).
Above: The National Shotgun (Luis García Berlanga, Spain, 1978).
Above: Blindfolded Eyes (Carlos Saura, Spain, 1978).
Above: Let’s Talk Tonight (Pilar Miró, Spain, 1982). 
Above: National III (Luis García Berlanga, Spain, 1982). 
Above: Hunting Ground (Jorge Grau, Spain, 1983).
Above: Fierce (Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, Spain, 1984).
Above: Year of Enlightenment (Fernando Trueba, Spain, 1986).
Above: Letters From Alou (Montxo Armendáriz, Spain 1990).
Above: A Passing Season (Gracia Querejeta, Spain, 1992).
Above: Stories from the Kronen (Montxo Armendáriz, Spain, 1995).
Above: The Man Who Designed Spain (Andrea G. Bermejo & Miguel Larraya, Spain, 2019).
Images courtesy of the Cruz más Cruz website.


Movie Poster of the WeekCruz NovilloJosé María Cruz NovilloCarlos SauraVictor EriceLuis Garcia BerlangaColumns
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