The Frenchmen Paul Colin, Jean Carlu, Charles Loupot and A. M. Cassandre are known as the "mosqueteros del cartel (poster Musketeers)" because of their contribution of iconic designs to the invention of the modern poster. Previously artists like Jules Chéret, Alphonse Mucha and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec also designed posters but unlike the artists of the exhibition they reflected the esprit nouveau in Paris in the Twenties and Thirties.
The title of the exhibition, El espectáculo está en la calle, refers to the text written in 1935 by Blaise Cendrans, author of the libretto Ballet Mécanique. In this paper, the author names Cassandre as the "first stage director" of the Parisian streets.
The four artists from the exhibition are influenced by movements such as Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, Dadaism and Surrealism and incorporate them into their creations. In this way the exhibition displays a selection of their most important works, which influence subsequent Graphic Arts and which in their time occupied the most strategic locations in Paris.
However, from the Forties the designers abandon the ideals of the avant-garde and dedicate themselves to commercial advertising. All of them, members of the Union des Artistes Modernes, remain very active until the Sixties.
Colin was a bon vivant, known for organising the most memorable parties in Paris. His poster for the Revue Nègre (1925) launched the career of Joséphine Baker, female star of the black company from Harlem. Colin designs the posters for fashionable theatres such as Champs Élysées or the Folies Bergère and also designs costumes and sets. This exhibition will exhibit thirty of his posters from 1925 to 1959 from among the nearly two thousand he produces, mainly for shows, theatre and official commissions.
Jean Carlu participates in the exhibition with sixteen pieces, dated between 1925 and 1954. The artist suffers an amputation of his right arm in 1918 because of an accident which forces him to abandon his architectural studies. Fascinated by Juan Gris and Albert Gleizes’ cubist paintings, he makes posters for Air France, Larousse and Pan American. He is a pioneer in neon signs and creates advertising catalogues for the Galerías Lafayette, la Grande Maison de Blanc and the Théâtre Pigalle. He also advocates major causes: he is one of the illustrators for the French Popular Front and founds the Propaganda Office for Peace, where he designs some of his most famous posters.
Loupot begins his career as a poster designer in Switzerland, where he works between 1916 and 1924 for department stores and luxury goods brands. When he moves to Paris the two posters that he designs in 1923 for Voisin automobiles mark a turning point in his style. The silhouettes of the characters Valentine or Cointreau make him famous. From 1937 he works as art director for the brand St. Raphaël, where he creates the most important works of his career during two decades and modernises the company’s style. Twenty-eight of Loupot’s works from 1920 to 1954 are part of this exhibition.
Lastly, Cassandre rises to fame with the design of a poster for Au Bûcheron. He receives commissions from French, English and Dutch railroads. In the exhibition we can see his posters for L'Etoile du Nord and Nord Express. In 1936 the Museum of Modern Art in New York dedicates an exhibition to him. The war interrupts his activity and afterwards he dedicates himself to theatre set design and painting. In 1963 he designs the famous YSL logo for Yves Saint Laurent. Poverty and his psychological state led him to commit suicide in 1968. This exhibition pays homage to him through forty-five of his creations, from 1923 to 1937.
All these artists rarely used photomontage or typographical montage, preferring airbrushing and traditional techniques associated with painting and drawing. Their efforts are aimed at achieving a graphical language that can be read by the spectator. They are the parents of current graphic design and manage to raise the consumption of everyday elements to a spiritual dimension.
Fundación Unicaja, Málaga
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