From the 1979 Loupot exhibtion at the Musée de l’Affiche in Paris to the recent survey “Loupot, Painter of Posters” at the Museum of Printing in Lyon, there has been new interest and appreciation of this artist’s work. Our collection spans all periods of this artist’s work – so you can see Loupot’s development from a sensitive commercial portraitist in Switzerland to a radical Parisian experimenter with forms, styles and techniques.
This design for a Lausanne furrier – the first of several – can be considered the definitive poster of Loupot’s early period, in which fashion dominated his clientele and his style. It is pure, very masterful fashion illustration, with the elegance of the outfit matched by the alert, watchful gaze of the model, and the accompanying dog. All elements conspire to focus attention on the intriguing outfit, which seems to shift in shape and purpose.
This is what perfection looks like, in luxury advertising. Loupot created it for a man who said, “Commercial considerations are fundamentally incompatible with revolutionary ideas.” Gabriel Voisin was an engineer with the soul of an artist. He was the first to take off and land a seaplane. Educated at the Fine Arts School of Lyon, he was horrified by the use of aeroplanes in the Great War and swore never to build one again. He turned to cars, and created drivable works of art – including the wildly experimental Voisin Laboratoire Grand Prix car of 1923, the same year as this poster, which quietly states that Voisin drives to the top of the world. Loupot would use this technique of frame and space two years later for the 1925 Exposition Internationale Arts Decoratifs poster (the arrival of Art Deco), which would launch him to fame. Voisin later designed the famous Citroën 2CV.
One of the first recurring characters in the history of advertising, Monsieur Nicolas, aka “Nectar Livreur” – Nectar Deliverer – was invented by the artist Dransy in 1922. His addled face and bewildered stance, with bottles pinwheeling out from his hands, lasted as a 50-year-long campaign – in part, because Nicolas Wines acquired the world’s best commercial artists to push the idea forward. Loupot was one. Beginning around 1927, he pushed the Nectar Livreur figure from Art Nouveau whimsy to High Modernist abstraction and silent-movie expressionism. Here, the character is in his Cubist phase, the pinwheel of bottles now two efficient and symmetrical fans. Extremely rare!
Loupot launched into work for St Raphael Quinquina (an aperitif in red and white varieties) with a series of four posters using these two characters, a portly waiter in red, and a taller, thinner waiter in white. In the first of the series, the characters are floating high above a Chagall-esque Paris; the second, they’re leaning back at rest in a café; this one, the third, is the first in which they are reduced to pure Cubist abstractions. “Compared with the two previous posters, it could be said to be a call to order” (Loupot/Zagrodski, p. 104).
By 1954, Loupot has pushed Monsieur Nicolas to his furthest extent of Modernist abstraction. Reducing the Nectar Livreur to nothing more than a series of thick, angled lines, Loupot transforms the wine-man into a sculptural form using the languages of Mies van der Rohe and Alexander Calder, entirely in tune with the Mid-Century Modern moment he’s in. MoMA awaits.