Art Deco Posters

With our most recent update heavily poster orientated, now seems as good a time as any to discuss posters during the art deco years and highlight a small section of the artists working during this period and our favourite posters by them.

During this period posters were a very popular medium for advertising retail items, theatres and film. Many of the famous ones were produced by the French artists of this time, artists such as Cassandre, Pico, Cheret, Bernard, Perceval, Toulouse-Lautrec, Bonacini, Di Lazarro and Colin.


Possibly the most famous was Adolphe Jean Marie Mouron A. K. A.

A. M. Cassandre (1901-1968).

Creator of many Ocean liner posters –  including the Normandie poster which he created in 1935.

He was the uncontested leader of French poster-makers between the two world wars, still remains on a worldwide level the best-known and recognised graphic artist of that period. 

With only a few exceptions, the hundred-odd posters he produced between 1925 and 1935 have a strength and impact which mark a difference from even his most talented competitors. As the American writer Paul Rand put it: “there can only be one Cassandre per century”, and Blaise Cendrars hailed Cassandre as the “street’s stage director”.

Cassandre was not only a poster designer but also an architect and set designer.

Born 24 January 1901 in Kharkov Ukraine, he was sent to France to be schooled and eventually due to the outbreak of world war 1 he stayed. His wealthy family had to leave Russia because of the revolution and they lost all of their possessions and wealth to the Bolsheviks. His Father continued to support him in his wish to become an artist.

When he was 17 he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts he walked out after just one hour and went to work with painter Lucien Simon. He took a job with a printing company – Hachard et Compaigne and by 1922 he started designing posters.

During his career he ran a small school of art from 1934 to 1935. He also taught at the Ecole des Arts Decoratives. He worked in costume and scenery design for the stage and Ballets Russes. He frequently travelled between New York and Paris working for Harpers Bazaar and the Ford Motor Company.

His famous Dubonnet man took various forms. The first one being the moving picture which consisted of 3 pictures each depicting the man drinking and warming up as he drank his Dubonnet.  It was amazing what a glass of Dubonnet could do for you!

Followed by other variations of him as he became famous.

Drawings of Mr Dubonnet in other sporting poses. The hunter 

The Boxer

The Jockey

The Bowler

The Cyclist

and the Ice skater

along with the rich man

The popularity of the Dubonnet man was such that he was produced as advertising figures made of wood, phenolic and metal materials to display in bars.

Collectors will now pay high prices for his original works. He produced approximately 100 posters between 1925 and 1935. His talent and strength of design sets him apart from other poster designers of the time.

Cassandra designed the font for the written logo for Yves St Laurent and magazine covers for Harpers Bazaar.

Sadly Cassandre’s latter years were spent in relative poverty and he suffered from psychological problems. He committed suicide in 1968.


Picaud, Maurice (Pico) (1900 – 1977)

Also signed his name as Maurice Pico or Pico, his real name is Maurice Picaud and he was a French, multi talented architect, designer and painter. He trained at the Ecole Boulle, worked for the Ruhlmann furniture company, and also distinguished himself as a newspaper cartoonist putting his talent to among others, Science and Life, Sports, Auto, Le Matin, etc. Assistant to the famous decorator Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann in the 1920s, Maurice Picaud produced this exceptional poster in 1927.  He designed the Folies Bergere building in Paris and the famous Pico plaque and the façade of the Folies Bergères, which depicts the Russian dancer, Lila Nikolska.

La Grande Folie, Folies Bergère – This is my favourite poster and the female in this poster depicted Josephine Baker who danced at the Folies.

This plaque is made of Gesso (plaster) and it is made from a cast which was taken from the entrance porch of the Folies Bergere Building in Paris in 1926, which depicts the dancer Lila Nickolska and was designed by Maurice Picaud. These plaques were made in a limited number for commemorative purposes and distributed as gifts to the members of Pico’s family, and apparently for sale to patrons of the theatre. It is gilded in very high relief, and is mounted in a heavy solid oak frame.


Paul Colin (1892 – 1985)

The Revue Nègre was one of the key events in interwar Parisian life. From one day to the next, it allowed Parisians to discover jazz: a colourful craziness invaded Paris and the Charleston became a fashionable dance. It led to the glory of two of its participants: Josephine Baker, the star of the show, and Paul Colin, the poster artist. The latter produced his first masterpiece using an impressive economy of means, with just two basic colours, red and black, depicting Josephine Baker with two Jazz musicians. Many of the Josephine Baker posters were designed by Paul Colin as he was also her lover.

Colin’s original poster for Black Birds at the Moulin Rouge sold in 2003 for $167,500 in New York.

Le Tumulte Noir: In a magnificent album published in 1927, Paul Colin grasped everything that the “black madness” embodied by Josephine Baker and La Revue Nègre represented during the roaring twenties. It captures a spirit in which gayety, rhythm, daring and elegance derives from Jazz.

A few other posters and drawings by Colin:


Róbert Berény (1887 – 1953)

Modiano, 1929.

Born in Budapest, Róbert Berény studied in Paris from 1905 to 1907 at the Académie Julian. In 1906, he exhibited at the Salon d’Automne and in 1907-1908 at the Salon des Indépendants alongside the Fauves. After returning to Hungary, he became one of the founders of The Eight, the mid-war Hungarian avant-garde. During the 1930s, Berény specialised in the creation of posters for various advertisers such as Modiano, an Italian brand of cigarettes.


Giuseppe Riccobaldi

Martini Vermouth, 1935.

Like Fortunato Depero and Marcello Nizzoli, Giuseppe Riccobaldi was highly influenced by Italian futurism. He worked both for the cinema and Italian tourism, as well as such big Italian firms as Fiat, Pirelli and Martini.


Georges Bourgeois

L’Inhumaine, 1924

A decorator architect, close to the founders of the U.A.M., or Union des Artistes Modernes, which had been set up in 1929, Georges Bourgeois regularly collaborated on Robert Mallet-Stevens’s productions. He produced this exceptional cubist-style poster for Marcel L’Herbier’s film. As for the sets, they were entrusted to Robert Mallet-Stevens and Fernand Léger.


Metropolis, 1927

Metropolis, a film by the director Fritz Lang, is generally considered to be a masterpiece of German expressionism and a precursor of modern science-fiction films. The original poster was created in 1926 by the artist Heinz Schulz Neudamm, and only 4 copies seem still to exist. Foreign diffusions subsequently started making their own posters. For the French production, Boris Bilinsky designed four posters. The copy reproduced here, and wrongly attributed to Boris Bilinsky, is in fact anonymous and conserved at the Bibliothèque

The film is set in a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working-class prophet Maria (Brigitte Helm) who predicts the coming of a saviour to mediate their differences.


Anatoly Belsky

Five Minutes, 1929.

Anatoly Belsky studied at the Central Imperial School of the Count Stroganov in Moscow, then in 1920 at the Vkhutemas Studios, set up by the Commissariat for the education of the people. He began his career as a set-designer, in particular in 1921 with Altman and Lavinski for a play by Mayakovski, Mystery-Bouffe. He quickly became one of the most gifted creators of posters in the Russian avant-garde. His poster for the film Five Minutes, with its zoom on the character supposedly depicting the wicked capitalist, is quite exceptional.


M. Dudovich and M. Nizzoli

Venezia Lido, 1930.

Marcello Dudovich, one of the first masters of the Italian poster, worked mainly for two large clothes stores, Mele in Naples and Rinascente in Milan. He also designed for Pirelli, Martini, Olivetti and Campari.

Marcello Nizzoli was a graphic designer, architect and artist. His work was diverse, from designing posters and handbags to typewriters and sewing machines. His most famous posters are probably for Campari.


Umberto Di Lazzaro

Lignes Aériennes Intérieures, 1936.

Umberto Di Lazzaro from 1920 to 1930 had a production of fifteen posters. This one designed later in 1936.


Panhard & Levassor, Alexis Kojewnikow

24 Hours of Le Mans, 1959.

As a design genius, Alexis Kow was barely 25 when he took on all the advertising accounts and catalogues for the brand Doriot, Flandrin and Parout.


Atelier Perceval

Air France in All Skies, 1949.

From the simple plane to Concorde, posters have always accompanied the development of aviation.


Roger Broders

Monte Carlo, 1932.

Roger Broders was one of the most prolific poster-artists of the 1930s. He brought the tourist poster to its peak working mainly for a single advertiser: the railway company Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée.

La plage de Calvi, Corse, 1932.

Sainte-Maxime, 1928.

Vichy, 1930.


E. Patké

Kinagin, 1948.


Nikolai Andreevich Dolgorukov (1902 – 1980)

End game, 1944.

In 1944 with the Nazis being pushed back on all fronts, Dolgorukov designed this propaganda poster designed to raise morale of a weary Russian army. It depicts a beaten and retreating Hitler in the sights of allied forces in front of the Brandenburg Gate in ruins.


Next Blog: My amazing Le Verrier collection.

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