Design Classics: Dubonnet poster by A.M. Cassandre

A.M. Cassandre (real name Adolphe Mouron) was a highly successful graphic designer and artist in the inter war years, whose poster work epitomised some of the finest produced during the Art Deco period. His use of innovative techniques, influenced by cubism and futurism, along with his talent for the design of typefaces meant he was one of the most influential in his field during the 20th Century.

His first ground-breaking work was “Au Bucheron” (Woodcutter) which was ubiquitous on the walls of Paris of the early 1920s. Although it appeared to be a call to arms for the working classes with its central image of a muscular axe-wielding figure, the piece was in fact an advertisement for a cabinet makers. Between then and his death by suicide amidst the Paris riots of 1968, Cassandre’s style continued to be ground-breaking and he is still credited as producing seminal works.

Cassandre’s work was art designed with a purpose, to communicate to the masses, and was highly effective at the start of advertising as a mass medium. The artist himself described designing a poster as “solving a technical and commercial problem… in a language that can be understood by the common man.”

His iconic images were often tied in with transport and featured stylised imagery of rail tracks, cargo ships and aircraft for his many clients. They were also designed to take into account the increasing pace of modern life. His were among the first designs to have been created to be seen from a fast moving vehicle, using easily read, simplified and idealised images. He also introduced the first serial posters – a group of posters providing a narrative, to be seen in rapid succession.

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