During my two months in Paris, I came to appreciate a different, or more diverse, French visual culture than the AM radio version: the Impressionist cliche.
Just walking around offers a hand-lettering bonanza.
I gained a fuller appreciation of the heritage of the French poster (ironically, in part through an exhibition catalogue from the Milwaukee Museum of Art). Which also exploits the possibility of hand-drawn type.
I got to explore hard copy of this pioneering entry in tabloid journalism, hand-drawn no less, that is Le Petit Journal illustree, launched toward the end of 1890–offers yet another example from that crazy decade in world visual culture. More about this publication to come.
With the help of my new friend Daniel Fisher, a contemporary French plein-air painter, I explored the Museum of the 1930s, and an alternate reading of 20th century French art. I discovered an artist with whom I had not previously been familiar, Yves Brayer.
More about the 30s museum and M. Fisher for another day. For now, one of Daniel's watercolors, in Paris.
Another name I had never heard: the oddball Bernard Buffet, an illustrator in painter's clothing (or vice versa). A fascinating case study, a celebrated-then-despised French painter introduced to me by a German, Alexander Roob in Dusseldorf. Of Mr. Roob I will have more to say as well...
Amid the grandiosity of the French painting galleries in the Louvre, I found myself in the sure hands of Camille Corot. (This reproduction is florid compared to the sobriety of the original.)
Those several rooms of modestly-sized landscapes, especially, were a tremendous relief, and a gift.
Finally, that nameless expertise, spot illustrations for textbooks (in this case, a French language text picked up in a used bookstore here in St. Louis). For connoisseurs of French informational illustration–an admittedly small group, perhaps–check out the indispensable Mondorama 2000, one of my favorite oddball visual culture blogs.
Images: Leonetto Cappiello, Le Frou-Frou, an advertisement for the humor magazine Le Frou-Frou, 1899; various photographs, hand-lettered signs, Paris; Jules Cheret, Folies Bergere, La Charmeuse du serpents, a poster promoting a snake charmer at the Folies Bergere, 1875; illustrator uncredited, La Catastrophe du Faradet (a submarine that sank accidentally, killing at 14 aboard), cover illustration for Le Petit Journal illustree, July 23, 1905; Yves Brayer, La Montagne Rouge Aux Baux, 1948; Brayer, La Place des Seigneurs, Verona, 1937; Daniel Fisher, Roofs of Paris, watercolor, 2006; Bernard Buffet, Range Rover, 1984; Camille Corot, Vue de Ville d'Avray, 1835-40; Corot, Pont de Narni, 1826-27; illustrator uncredited, vocabulary spot illustrations, cours de Lange et de Civilization Francaise I, published by the Alliance Francaise and the Librairie Hachette, Paris, 1953.