Charles Loupot (1892-1962) had a prolific career marked by two periods: his early Swiss years—1917 to 1924—show him to be a master of the female figure and a sublime colorist, as in his rare Tapis d’Orient, one of his first posters. Upon returning to Paris, he did away with realistic figuration in favor of bold geometric forms influenced by Cubism and Futurism. From 1930-1934 he worked with Cassandre at Alliance Graphique, where he developed his characteristic style: dark backgrounds, airbrushed details, bold typography, and charmingly abstracted subjects.
This vividly colored, magnificently detailed maquette is for a poster on behalf of L’Impartial, a Swiss daily newspaper founded in Neuchâtel in 1881. It’s startlingly Deco-designed for such an early stage of Loupot’s career—and even evinces the theatrical fashion sense more often seen in Schnackenberg costume designs than in Swiss department stores at the time. It’s clear that even around 1917, when Loupot was rendering very traditional designs for his first clients, he was then reaching for the avant-garde. For a more literal-minded Loupot design for this newspaper, see PAI-XIV, 320.
As one of Loupot’s first posters, this image is exceptionally rare. Shown in relaxed simplicity, an Arabic woman sits before a tea table, exhibiting the high quality of the Oriental carpets available at the store.
Using a cubist style with his trademark simplicity, Loupot creates a dynamic poster for a motor oil. Arms spin like a three-bladed propeller to suggest that this oil makes your engine go like the wind. The oil is available in three different mixtures and, to further the idea, Loupot sets up a three-step process: choose, use, and toss. It’s a good example of the artist’s work for the Damour agency, which from 1925 to 1930 set him up as director of his own graphic studio, “Les Belles Affiches,” in the Paris suburb of Aubrespin. Here Loupot created a large body of work, including some of his very finest posters for Dauphinet, Peugeot, Tracteur Austin, and Cointreau. In 1930, Loupot joined Cassandre to form the Alliance Graphique. This is one of only three known copies.
In this simple and effective design, a double stripe of toothpaste spells the product’s initial in pink and white. The dark background is characteristic of the stylistic change displayed by Loupot’s work of this period, immediately following his four-year collaboration with Cassandre in the Alliance Graphique. Possibly because this was a Swiss product, Loupot succumbed to the “object poster” style which was so popular there and in Germany at the time.
Loupot offers us an interesting study in contrasting graphic styles. The princess—all geometric contours, smudged tones, and Modigliani neck—becomes a fantasy of taste above and beyond the photographically depicted chocolate bar wrapper. It’s an inspired choice that perfectly embodies the brand experience.
Loupot created two posters for Cointreau using the image of the commedia dell’arte clown Pierrot; one male (see PAI-XLV, 369) and one female, as seen here. Pierrot had been a staple of advertising for more than 30 years and Loupot was brought in to give a much-needed update to the clown. Loupot abstracts and stylizes the character into Cubist forms defined by a textural orange peel which refers to the sour orange whose peel flavors this curaçao liqueur. The clown’s nose clip is not just an eye-catching device—Loupot borrowed the accessory from photographs of the famed mime artist Najac as Pierrot.
Loupot created a number of posters for this brand of bitters; here we see the streamlined incarnation of the two waiters who would become the company trademark. Throughout their evolution, two elements of their first rendering remained constant: their comic contrast in physique and their red and white colors. This also cements St. Raphaël’s new cursive logo; Loupot dismantled the old all-capital letter format and introduced this personalized product signature in 1938—which the company continues to use to this day. The printed version of this poster was used by St. Raphaël largely in Paris metro stations. This is a full-size framed maquette from the artist’s studio.