One of the most prolific and accomplished French graphic designers of the art deco era (1910-1940) was René Vincent (1879-1936). What I like most about his work is its rootedness in bodies and objects of palpable heft, in contrast to the propensity of many artists of that era to populate their work with virtually weightless streamlines.
Vincent’s poster productions, like the one shown here as a close-up detail of a massive tableau on behalf of a biscuit manufacturer, were consistently vibrant in a bon vivant tenor which included self-confident grace and wit. In such earthiness, he was a creature of the Belle Epoque, setting off visual, seductive fireworks for a post-War, darker era. The allusion, in the poster from our collection, to Marie Antoinette and her line, “Let them eat cake,” captures his irreverent energies, more in accord with a figure like Paul Iribe than with Cassandre, Paul Colin and Charles Loupot.
The spectacular gowns here are incorporated into a fascination for small, beautiful things, including the flower girl who reminds us (rare for an art deco promotion) that down-to-earth energies can hold their own amidst more lofty ambitions.
Again, the past and the future, each in its way a fiery force.
In a context of ethereal entries by the likes of Barbier and Martin, Vincent’s design for the deluxe catalogue of Paris furrier, Max, is more mainstream, with just a soupcon of departing the venerable scene.
Full-speed ahead; but the kids are a reminder of more rounded energies.
Vincent was crazy about fast, new cars; and he produced a series of great ads on their behalf.This glorious tribute does not, however, fail to locate the blast, into an exciting, mysterious, exotic future, within a world of various speeds.
René Vincent was one of the leading designers of full-page, large-format advertisements for what was a recent phenomenon, namely, mass-circulation magazines.
This and the following images appeared in the French news and diversion monthly, L’Illustration. Here the cosmically chic vehicle and the glamorous, vastly modern woman at the wheel have a lumpen but not exactly incongruous little boy in tow.
Cigarettes in the English style, and a young fun-seeker who is also a trend-setter. The sheer self-destructiveness of this Belle Epoque indulgence strikes an odd timbre here. But the mix of chic energy and die-hard ways adds up to a delicious design.
Once again, the era of Marie Antoinette, fast-forwarding to a Machine-Age of mass production and high quality. Vive la France, for inspiring such loyalties! And vive Vincent, for discovering that the new is a fertile synthesis, not a simplistic thesis!