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Frou-frou

Oooh, saucy! Ribald risqué revelry up on Montmartre hill. Sex sells, but what sex excels? Le Frou-Frou est pour vous.

150. Le Frou-Frou. 1899.
150. Le Frou Frou. 1899.
Artist: Leonetto Cappiello
43 x 60 7/8 in./109.4 x 157 cm
Est: $7,000-$9,000.

Cappiello’s very first poster: a carefree, saucy and effervescent introduction to the inaugural issue of Le Frou Frou, a humor magazine named after the noise a woman’s skirt makes while rustling in the wind. Cappiello got the commission for the first issue; however Weiluc’s treatment (lot 401) is the more famous (see below).

229. Tabarin / D'Ou Viennet-Ils? 1898.
229. Tabarin / D'Ou Viennet-Ils? 1898.
Artist: Jules-Alexandre Grün
36 x 50 1/4 in./91.5 x 127.6 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500.

“Where do they come from?” 58, Rue Pigalle, apparently. This poster represents a turning point in Grün’s career, establishing an artistic formula which he would call upon for the rest of his life. The male figure exists only in his accounterments, his tails disappearing into the black background. Meanwhile, the two tempting ladies pop off the page in red and white, as the naked paper is the ideal hue for the color of their skin, and the shape of their nearly-nude breasts. Two policemen in the background, with their smirks of approval, are two cheeky cameos that recur often in Grün’s work: Fursy and Ropiquet, managers of the Tréteau de Tabarin, a Pigalle cabaret fashioned out of a military-officer’s mansion.

304. Job. 1896.
304. Job. 1896.
Artist: Alphonse Mucha
16 1/4 x 20 3/4 in./41.2 x 52.7 cm
Est: $20,000-$25,000.

Perhaps the most outstanding specimen we’ve ever seen of this world-famous work. Note especially the beautiful cherry-red of the cigarette-tip, the lips, nostril and fascinator; the subtle rouge of eyelids, cheek, and earlobe bring this lush, languid beauty fully to life. It seems impossible that such flamboyant effort would be devoted to selling cigarette papers. But: the exotic tendrils of her hair conjure up the fractal whorls of smoke from an idle cigarette. The image is breathtaking; the beauty intoxicating. A classic by any standard.

335. Folies-Bergère / La Grande Folie. ca. 1927.
335. Folies-Bergère / La Grande Folie. Ca. 1927.
Artist: Maurice Pico
13 3/4 x 20 1/2 in./34.8 x 52 cm
Est: $2,500-$3,000.

The Folies Bergère goes Full Cubism for “The Great Folly: Hyper Revue.” Maurice Pico’s tart observation of the dynamic between showgirl and gentleman spectator brings a kiss, a swoop, and a snap of hilarity to this extremely unusual design for the famous French cabaret. “The Folies rarely produced anything as ‘art deco-ish’,” and “we discover, as if in a cocktail, a mixture of cubism, some of Halouze’s style and some of Colin’s” (Folies-Bergère, p. 13).

398. Orangina. 1984.
398. Orangina. 1984.
Artist: Bernard Villemot
23 x 17 1/2 in./58.4 x 44.5 cm
Est: $700-$900.

A master of colors and forms, Villemot created an indelible visual identity for Orangina and carried it through dozens of iterations over the years. This one cheerfully exploits the ’80s MTV trend for primary-hued pop art. We hardly notice that the curvaceous sunbather – reminiscent of a Matisse nude – is carrying the familiar orange-peel swirl in red, on the hat and bikini-top. This is the smaller format.

401. Le Frou-Frou : Maquette. 1900.
401. Le Frou-Frou : Maquette. 1900.
Artist: Weiluc
20 3/4 x 25 3/8 in./52.8 x 64.5 cm
Est: $20,000-$25,000.

This handsigned, gouache and ink maquette by Weiluc is an original representation of one of the most famous, most witty, most flirtatious, most exquisitely French posters of all time. Le Frou-Frou was a satirical magazine that ran from the turn of the 20th century to World War I. Cappiello actually designed the poster for the first issue (No. 150), but it’s this one, with legs disappearing within the pure white fantasy space of petticoats, the luxurious pillows, the languorous cigarette spelling out the name in smoke, and – most especially – the devastatingly seductive dart of eyes to our left, that will have us dreaming for many years to come.