Eugene Grasset

Return to Previous Page
Eugene Grasset was born in Lausanne, Switzerland and studied architecture in Zurich. He even started working for an architect, but in 1871 moved to Paris and embarked on a career in art. He dabbled in all aspects of it: metal, ceramics, furniture design, windows, jewelry, tapestry. In 1877, he became interested in color lithography and illustrative techniques, and again went for a whole gamut of the subject: magazine covers, decorative panels, book illustration, cards, postage stamps, typography, book design. On the side, he entered a contest for the design of a fountain, did a mosaic for a church, and designed the interior of the Chat Noir cabaret. In posters, he affects a formalistic, classic approach, often with something of a medieval symbolism faintly present.
Grasset was an apostle of the decorative trend in art, and is often credited with giving a major impetus to the style which was eventually called art nouveau. His creed was the democratization of art in all its expressions, and to this end he worked tirelessly, teaching (and, in the view of some, preaching) his conviction to everyone he could reach. He taught decorative painting at the Ecole Guerin, and wrote several authoritative books which belong among the bibles of art nouveau: ''La Plante et ses Applications Ornementales'' (1898-9) and ''La Methode de Composition Ornementale'' (1905) are two of the most important ones. He even had a type face he designed named after him.                           (''Posters of the Belle Epoque'' by Jack Rennert)

Eugene Grasset (1845-1917) is the poster child for the classic style. Born in Switzerland, he did it all. Beginning as an architect, he moved to Paris and became an artist of all trades. He worked with fabrics, tapestry, jewelry, and ceramics, and then went on to design magazine covers, illustrate books, and create postage stamps. In the midst of these activities, he designed the interior of the Chat Noir cabaret and created a mosaic for a church.

Formality, romanticism and medieval influences prevail through all of his work. He was a strong supporter of the decorative arts has been credited for being the advance man for Art Nouveau.