Jules Cheret, a name synonymous to the Art Nouveau movement of the late 19th century, was born in 1836 in Paris into a humble family of typographers and artisans. Thus, creativity and aesthetic awareness were instilled in him as the household that he grew up in was one that was conducive to ingenuity and experimentation. Cheret invested the early years of his youth, receiving art training under a three-year apprenticeship with a lithographer, followed by drawing lessons in the evening under the French artist Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran. As a young student, he absorbed and learnt a lot from some of the works of famous painters in the Louvre and other museums. Thus by the age of 18, Cheret’s unique artistic flair became noticeable and he was able to earn a simple living selling designs and illustrations to customers, most of whom were music producers. Cheret travelled to London in 1854, where he was exposed to the advanced techniques of lithography which not only awed him, but also inspired him to improve his art by getting at par with the technological advancements of the time. Upon returning to Paris in 1858, Cheret induced that pictorial lithographic posters were the future of graphic design, but he found it extremely suffocating because none of the advertisers were convinced by this. He received his first stroke of luck in the form of a commission for a poster advertising Jacques Offenbach's operetta Orpheus in the Underworld. Thwarted when this failed to prompt more commissions, Cheret returned to London where he spent the next seven years evolving his lithography expertise, and consequently imbibing the British style of poster design and printing. During this time period, Cheret worked for Cramer publishers where he made illustrations, designed book covers and posters for music halls, theatres, cabarets, and circuses. Upon returning to Paris in 1866, Cheret’s friend introduced him to perfume manufacturer Eugene Rimmel, for whom he began designing perfume packaging. This collaboration, lead to Rimmel aiding the young designer in establishing his commercial color lithographic shop. Cheret was revolutionary for poster design, as he altered the age old lithography technique by formulating a process which made printing more cost effective, with high quality colors- which were a colossal contribution to the development of graphic design. Jules Cheret from that juncture went on to become a significant figure in graphic-design history, and the principal artist to make his reputation in the medium of poster art. He is attributed for enhancing the aesthetic nature of posters, by bequeathing it with flowing elegant designs and transforming it into an independent decorative art form. An ardent admirer and depicter of the female form in his posters, Jules Cheret’s subjects became so popular that the Parisians dubbed them ‘Cherrettses’. It was because of his patronage of this genre and the painters associated with it; for the promotion of whom he published his book entitled Masters of the Poster ; that he began to be known as the ‘father of the Belle Epoque poster’.
Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Antoine Watteau, were renowned names from the Rococo movement. The frivolity depicted in their works influenced Cheret’s work most deeply, which is why we see this sense of fun and enjoyment of trivialities in the posters designed by him. The most prominent aspect of his poster Carnival 1986 is the contrast in colour of the man and woman. This use of such a dramatic shadow effect exudes immense mystery in the man, and inadvertently prompts the viewer to assume that it’s a possible reflection of the role he plays in this theatrical production. The colour green of the dress contributes in making the ‘Charett’ the focal point. This is also particularly so because the light green has been placed against a stark bright orange so the lighter colour is up lifted. . The orange and green come together to create great dramatic contrast and...
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