A.M. Cassandre: Biography

A.M. Cassandre was born as Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron on January 24, 1901, in Kharkov, Ukraine. Born of French parents, Cassandre eventually settled in Paris in 1915. The blooming artist studied at Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the independent studio of Lucien Simon and l’Académie Julian. Throughout his life, he pursued many career paths and was well-known as a graphic designer, painter, poster artist and stage designer.

After completing his education, Cassandre moved to his own studio in 1922 in Paris. It was there that he began signing his works with the pseudonym “Cassandre.” Inspired by cubism and surrealism, Cassandre created the first poster that exemplified his unique style in 1923. This work, called Au Bûcheron, was created for a cabinet maker.

Au Bûcheron
1923

Au Bûcheron was printed as a large-format poster and was displayed throughout Paris. Cassandre’s style impressed Parisians, and Cassandre became famous very quickly. In 1925, Au Bûcheron was awarded first place at Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs. Thus began Cassandre’s successful career as an artist and designer.

Over the years, Cassandre garnered a successful reputation with his posters such as Étoile du Nord and Dubo Dubon Dubonnet. The Dubonnet posters were very unique because the design was created to be seen from fast-moving vehicles. The poster introduced and completed an idea with successive posters.

Dubo Dubon Dubonnet
1932

Cassandre’s work created a bridge between fine art and commercial art. He was a master of airbrushing techniques and created seamless artworks that were successful not only in Europe but also in the United States. Cassandre’s work demonstrates the sleek, architectonic styles of Art Deco. His works displayed futurist inspiration with their energy and dynamism, which is exemplified in works such as Nord Express.

Nord Express
1927

In 1926, Cassandre co-founded the advertising agency Alliance Graphique and began experimenting with typography. Cassandre designed the famous advertising typeface Bifur, which was printed by Deberny & Peignot in 1929. He later created the sans-serif typeface Acier Noir in 1935.

Bifur typeface
1929

Between 1933 and 1935, Cassandre began painting for the theater and was also was given teaching positions at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratifs and later at Rue Férou in Paris. Cassandre created his first all-purpose typeface, Peignot, which was exhibited at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris.

Peignot typeface
1937

After spending a short time fighting in World War II, the demobilized artist returned to Paris. Cassandre spent the majority of his time painting and designing sets and costumes for the theater. Following WWII, Cassandre continued his activities as a graphic artist, creating advertisements, magazine covers and posters.

In 1950, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs held a large public exhibition featuring Cassandre’s diverse works in the graphic and plastic arts. Unfortunately, the last stretch of Cassandre’s life was a tumultuous time for the artist, and he suffered from bouts of severe depression. He began work on several paintings but never finished them.

On June 17, 1968, A.M. Cassandre committed suicide in his apartment in Paris. However, his work lives on today and is an inspiration for artists and designers across the world.

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