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A. M. Cassandre (French, 1901–1968)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

French designer, painter and writer. His family settled in Paris in 1915. After very briefly attending the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1918, he studied in Lucien Simon’s studio, at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and at the Académie Julian. In 1922 he began designing posters (for an illustration), using the name ‘Cassandre’. His first notable success was The Woodcutter (1923; Paris, Mus. Affiche & Pub.), executed in clear, simplified forms, somewhat influenced by Cubism. In 1926 he published his first text on poster design in Revue de l’Union de l’Affiche Française, in which he emphasized the poster artist’s connection with the ancient and medieval traditions of communicating messages through pictures. He designed his first typeface, the advertising Bifur face, in 1927 and in 1930 designed the sanserif Acier display face; these reflected his growing interest in the typographic elements of his posters. In the 1930s his output of posters for French and foreign firms was prolific. It included the popular triptych Dubo Dubon Dubonnet (1932; New York, MOMA), which illustrated the pleasure of drinking Dubonnet by increasing the coloured areas of the design. Others, such as Paris (1935; see Mouron, pl. 53), were influenced by Surrealism, in particular the empty, haunting spaces of De Chirico’s works. In 1935 a collection of Cassandre’s posters was published as Le Spectacle est dans la rue, with a preface by Blaise Cendrars. He spent the winters of 1936–7 and 1937–8 in New York, where he worked for Harper’s Bazaar, and in 1937 he designed his first all-purpose typeface, Peignot. After returning to Paris in 1938 he concentrated on painting until 1944, producing austere, realistic portraits such as that of Pierre Reverdy (1943; see Mouron, p. 121), as well as landscapes. After earlier commissions in the 1930s, in the 1940s and 1950s Cassandre was much occupied with stage designs, such as those for the ballet Les Mirages. This was performed in 1947 and had a narrative written by Serge Lifar and Cassandre himself. He designed a few posters in the 1940s and 1950s and in 1958 designed a typeface for Olivetti. His productivity waned in the 1960s, but he did design the famous logo for Yves Saint Laurent and produced tempera paintings such as the bleak The Frontier (1962; see Mouron, p. 151), as well as occasional posters, before his suicide.


From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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