At a recent Decorative and Fine Arts Society (DFAS Waikato) meeting we were privileged to hear Charles Harris lecturing on the work of Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron, known as Cassandre. Harris is a multi-award winning creative director who worked in advertising agencies in countries such as the UK, USA, Australia and Singapore. He was involved with creating posters for brands such as Nestlé, Kraft, Sony, General Motors and Shell. With his own expertise as a creative, he was an articulate and credible advocate of Cassandre’s advertising art.
During the 1930s, Cassandre created advertising posters that epitomised the Art Deco period. I was intrigued to learn that the term “Art Deco” was not coined until 1960. It is an abbreviation of “Expositions des Arts Décoratifs et Industriel”, which was an exhibition that took place in Paris in 1925 to celebrate modern living. Cassandre’s posters do, indeed, celebrate the new forms of transport of his time.
Harris showed us more recent advertising which referenced Cassandre’s famous steamship poster (shown here) – but it simply did not have the drama, flair and imposing lines of this artwork.
Cassandre was known for inventing typefaces that were integral to his poster designs. Don’t you love the economy of the shapes of the lettering in this advertising for Nord Express? As someone who writes advertorial for a living – I am blown away by the economy of words. The image, the lettering, and the limited word count are all so powerful.
There was something so familiar to me about this poster. Did I grow up seeing it in my mother’s glossy magazines? or on billboards? I had not previously understood the pun – Dubo (Du beau – handsome), Dubon (Du bon – good), Dubonnet (the drink, Dubonnet). Sheer genius!
Sometimes committee work yields some thrilling rewards. As a DFAS committee member I drove to Auckland to pick up Charles and Marilyn Harris (on the right and in the middle of the image) to bring them to Hamilton for the Charles’ lecture to DFAS members. We had lunch at the home of Fred and Angela Dobbs. Fred was formerly a principal with McCann Erickson and a major player with Lockheed. I was in awe, sitting in on their conversation.