An easy style to identify is Plakatstil meaning "poster style" . Look for flat background color and a dominant stylized product with the name of the product written out. This style originated in Germany so often the text will be often be in German. There were many posters done during the war for both sides and other than selling products this is a common theme.
Art Deco was a wildly popular geometric style that went beyond graphics to typography, buildings [the Chrysler building], furniture, jewelry and product design. Known for it's zig-zag line, geometric shapes, and the machine aesthetic, in these works you will see streamlining and converging lines. Eclecticism and international motifs such as Assyrian and American Indian were incorporated into designs. A.M. Cassandre is perhaps the most famous art deco designer and many of his works are travel posters written in French. To see lots of Art Deco architecture head for Miami.
Suprematism: Non-representational. pure colors, basic geometric shapes, text looks Russian, often uses red and black on a beige colored background.
Constructivism characteristics include: Geometric shapes, asymmetry,diagonal lines and the text looks Russian, often uses red and black on a beige colored background.
A primary difference would be the first is non-representational [abstract geometric shapes] and the second has recognizable images.
De Stijl is noted for it's use of primary colors [red, yellow, blue] with neutrals [black, white and gray] and horizontal and vertical perpendicular lines. Launched in the Netherlands the movement included graphics, architecture and furniture.
The most important school of graphic design in history, the Bauhaus aimed to deliver a message and communicate. Function was more important than decoration and Jan Tschichold and others worked with the new typography. It was sans serif and asymmetrical. Purity, clarity and simplicity were goals and new approaches to photography included extreme scale contrasts, bird's eye and worm's eye photography. Montage was another method used and you can often easily identify these works as they have text that reads Bauhaus. Many pieces were promotional for the school as they produced graphic design, architecture, furniture and product design bringing a new unity of art and technology.
MODERN MOVEMENT IN AMERICA
The Modern Movement in America has a Bauhaus influence but American content. Text will be written in English and have American themes. It can also be identified in the graphics created for the WPA or Works Progress Administration an effort to put unemployed artists to work during the depression. If you find a poster with text for a governmental program or agency such as the Rural Electrification Administration or Office of Emergency Management you are most likely in the right category.
INTERNATIONAL TYPOGRAPHIC STYLE
The ITS or International Typographic Style originated in Switzerland and was incredibly popular with a long life span. Asymmetry, flush left/ragged right layouts and sans serif letters with bold words for emphasis are clues. Designs were reductive, objective with no superfluous decoration. The use of grids in the placement of images and text were key to