The intention of this essay is to discuss an example of design from the early 1900’s. The design I am currently looking at is a poster called ‘Bugatti’ designed in 1925 by a graphic designer and typographer, A. M. Cassandre. His real name is Adolph Mouron, born on 1901 in Ukraine to French parents. He believed that “Designing a poster means solving a technical and commercial problem… in a language that can be understood by the common man. ” As a young man, Cassandre moved to Paris where he studied fine art at the École des Beaux-Arts and at the Académie Julian .
The popularity of posters as advertising gave him an opportunity to work for a Parisian printing house. Aldolphe began his career with poster making which he is most known for. He became successful enough with the help of partners, and set up his own advertising agency called Alliance Graphique. He was an important designer because his posters were memorable for their innovative graphic solutions and their frequent denotations to such painters as Pablo Picasso.
He taught graphic design at the École des Arts Décoratifs and then at the École d’Art Graphique.
In his later years, Aldolphe suffered from depression, prior to his suicide in Paris 1968. Cassandre’s work is typically Art Deco which was decorative style that first appeared in France, it then became popular all over the world. His posters represent the style of a classic design period from the late 1920’s to the mid 1940’s. Architects working in this style adopted the modern construction methods of concrete, steel, chrome, glass and plastic. They also included geometric forms and striking colours which tend to be vivid and high-contrast.
His inventive graphic techniques show influences of Surrealism and Cubism and became very well-known in Europe and the US during the 1930s. The design I am currently looking at is quite recognisable from the Art Deco movement. Art Deco and Cassandra himself was said to be inspired by cubism, using it in the design with him making use of various shapes and very little colour. Art Deco is also characterised by geometric shapes and symmetry: linear shapes rather than soft lines. As can be seen with this poster.
The poster features predominantly a nude colour, with the hood of the car being showcased with a white spinning wheel of a sports car, imposed over the dark brown silhouette of a horses head, encased in a beige background. When I first looked at his design the first thing I noticed was the horse. I then saw the front left of a car (the ’Bugatti’) which jumped out beneath the bold colour of the horse, using a neutral tone and cubed shape to distinguish it from the soft curved shape of the horse.
It was then I could see that the poster was meant to be advertising not only a car, but one which was fast, chic and elegant like a racing car. The artist seems to be using the horse as a comparison with the car to highlight its sophistication and speed. The horse has the elegant and smooth features of a thoroughbred which is used for horse racing . This would explain the title at the top of the poster ‘Le pur – sang des automobiles’ which means thoroughbred cars.
Both the car and the horse are encased within a linear circle, with only half the circle visible, yet on closer inspection you can see that if you followed from point to point it would be a full 360 degree circle. The artist could even have started with a circle and then moved on to the wheel and the horse. In my opinion, I would say the style of this image looks quite modern even though it was designed in the early 1900’s. The car does not look like cars do today and the horse has a kind of an ancient greek look to it, I personally still think it looks modern.
It could even be mistaken as being a design of the 21st Century. Cassandra used similar colours in this design which mix together very well, apart fro the wheel of course. He used a rather bold colour for the wheel which I think he did on purpose to grab attention to the wheel. The colour he used for the horse is dark, which possibly distracts the audience from the wheel which I would have wanted to be the main focal point . The first thing that attracted my eye was the horse, then the wheel. Nevertheless, I still like the fact that the horse stands out in this image.
The tone in this image is mostly dark, except the inner lines of the wheel which is brilliant white, I think that after the horse attracting the human eye first; the colour of the wheel draws you’re eye to it and makes you look at it for longer and keeps the viewer intrigued. The artist used an interesting type font in this poster, however I do not think he designed this font himself. The typography he used integrates with the design. He designed quite a few different typefaces of his own, two of them are very popular. Bifur’ is a font with very bold capitals and is the only typeface with a distinct Bauhaus look. His more famous typeface is ‘Peignot Light‘, which is named after Charles Peignot who commissioned both typefaces and was a major promoter of innovation in typography. Personally, I think that the type of font he used for ‘Bugatti’ suits the design itself very well. I think that this poster done the job it was designed for perfectly and complements the smooth texture of the design. On the whole, I think Cassandra’s design is very creative, it is magnetic and an alternative design which is a pleasure to look at.
His use of creativity and imagination draws me to the poster and I really like it. I think the poster would be appealing to the male eye, especially with the race horse and car being the main features. It would be particularly of interest to someone with a passion for cars and a sophisticated lifestyle, with a tradition of quality, speed and glamour. The design itself, is indeed a lifestyle statement. I feel this design requires the viewer to have a good eye and appreciation of art to fully understand it‘s meaning.
For example, the hood of the car could easily be mistaken for a pointless space and you could merely see the horse and the wheel. In particular, I liked how the designer used the horse as a comparison with the car to captivate the audience. I think this makes the design look more interesting and attractive. I think the only thing I would change is maybe the colour of the wheel to a more radiant colour. Taking this aside, it still remains to be an amazing piece of Art Deco and sophisticated work of art which will continue to captivate the audience.
Cite this Example of Design from the Early 1900’s
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