Posters as Artwork

by Liz Dowling

About 13 years ago, my husband and I were celebrating a certain birthday I won’t share with you, when we saw this poster in the window of a small shop.  The brilliant green color and bird hat on this wonderful woman stopped both of us.  The store was Galerie Documents at 53 rue de Seine.  We walked in and spoke to the charming owner, and left with this lady tucked under our arm.

Poster illustrated by Rene Gruau

Poster illustrated by Rene Gruau

The artist, Rene Gruau, was a renowned fashion illustrator who became one of the best known and favorite artists of the haute couture world during the 1940s and 50s.  The store owner didn’t mention anything to us about the artist.  We were just excited to have another option for our walls rather than a hodgepodge of family photos and nautical maps my husband collects!

Two lipstick ads by Rene Gruau on either end

Two lipstick ads by Rene Gruau on either end

Gruau’s artwork is recognized internationally in some of France and Italy’s most prestigious art museums, including the Louvre.  He collaborated with fashion houses such as Givency, Lanvin, Balenciaga, Balmain and Dior during his career.  He moved to the US in 1948 to work for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue before becoming the exclusive artist for Flair.  We grabbed the two lipstick ads by him above a few years later and love how they look in our living room.


Bernard Villemot is another French graphic artist we discovered along the way.  He is known for his iconic images of Orangina, Perrier and Air France from the 1950s.

P1030508  P1030516

We love how colorful and fun his images are, and they can be very reasonable if you want to decorate your walls with something different.  Villemot won every award in his field, and was considered the greatest French “posterist” of his time.  He died in 1989.

Villemot in our office

Villemot in our office

Our nautical maps have since been moved upstairs…  It is hard for us to resist when we find a new poster by one of these artists or others.  They add brilliant color to a room and an interesting piece of history – all at a wonderful value.

Classic Villemot Perrier ad

Classic Villemot Perrier ad

the wry home

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Maria G April 4, 2014 - 4:30 pm

So creative. And just lovely. Reminds me of my first apartment my roommate and I framed our favorite New Yorker cartoons and covered a full wall. It was a wonderful way to make a high statement and that time with virtually no money.

Elizabeth Dowling April 4, 2014 - 11:47 pm

Thank you Maria. I have a pile of New Yorker covers and am waiting to figure out where to use them….

Paula Fung April 6, 2014 - 9:47 pm

Liz, I love that Orangina poster. I didn’t know it came in “light”!

Elizabeth Dowling April 7, 2014 - 8:35 am

I know, how great would that be! I think Orangina came out in light and then didn’t do so well.
Would be so delicious.

Paula Fung April 7, 2014 - 8:07 am

I didn’t know Orangina came in “light”!! We’ll have to source that!

Jean McCormick September 3, 2015 - 8:22 am

These posters have always resonated with me. It gives you a window into different eras and lifestyles.

Lizanne Shaver September 3, 2015 - 11:02 am

OMG!!!! Love the history of feeling part of living in the 50’s. Today it would be Kim and Kane UGH!!!!! Ox La

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