Cassandre posters in Scorces’s ‘Hugo’

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The centerpiece of Scorceses movie ‘Hugo’ is the station resembling the Gare du Nord. It has a remarkable amount of advertising posters on display. Many of them are by the famous French poster artist Cassandre (1901-1968).

I counted at least eleven of Cassandre. This must have made his heirs –who vigorously retain his copyrights–happy campers. In reality it is doubtful a similar display would have been found outside poster-exbitions in those days. If only for the dates of the posters that all fall in the 1927-1932 range.

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When the camera first enters the station hall one sees on the left a variation on Cassandre’s Grande Quinzaine Internationale de Lawn-Tennis (1932), and above the stairs in the back the famous Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet (1932) series advertising liquor. Most prominently on the left side Triplex (1930) with the driver behind safety glass.

A few scenes later also also Sools (1929) for hats and Unic (1932) for men shoes can be discerned in the hall. Specially highlighted at a certain moment is one of Cassandres other more famous posters, Nord Express (1927), celebrating a cubist machine aesthetic.

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The hallway connecting the platform hall uses two posters that in their muted coloring look a lot like murals. On the left side is a depiction of a large study Cassandre made, probably for Galeries Lafayettes, that was never published. It is beautifully shown when Hugo is creeping out of the wall during the movie.

If he would have looked forward he would have seen the flower stand. Above it the advertisement for the magazine VU, a French predecessor of Life magazine, highlighted when inspector Gustave looks at the flowergirl.
Taking in mind the them of the poster, love at first sight!

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Another fine ensemble of Cassandre”s posters is shown when Hugo escapes from inspector Gustave by running through the whole length of one the platforms and flying up a ladder. On the platform five Cassandre posters: Grande Quinzaine Internationale de Lawn-Tennis (1932), SAGA (1927), Chemin de Fer du Nord (1929), L’ Oiseau Blue (1929) and Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet (1932).

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The newspaper stand owner has at his side Cora Madou (1929)–a famous singer in those days–from Paul Colin. In the hall is the Twining poster advertising tea from Charles Loupot. When Hugo creeps out of the wall to tiptoe to Méliès’ toy-stand we see in the hallway around the corner, a carefully framed Au Bon Marché (1929) from Jean Carlu. Rather symbolically it features a happy servant with toys and at his feet a little girl. These three poster artists–Colin, Loupot and Carlu–were, together with Cassandre known as the ‘four musketeers’, a testament to their importance in the nineteen twenties and thirties.

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As for the other posters. The most remarkable ones are the those on the wall of the cinema Hugo visits. Beautiful film posters that immidiately convey a more american flavor (any movieposter specialists here?). In the remainder of the movie there are at least 10 other posters which I haven’t been able to identify. All in all a remarkable collection. Where is the missing movie companion for this collection?

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  • Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet 1932
    Triplex 1930
    Grande Quinzaine Internationale de Lawn-Tennis 1932
    Sools 1929
    Unic 1932
    Nord Express 1927
    Vu 1928
    Poster design Galeries Lafayette 1928
    Grande Quinzaine Internationale de Lawn-Tennis 1932
    SAGA 1927
    Chemin de Fer du Nord 1929
    L’ Oiseau Blue 1929
    Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet 1932
    Twining (Charles Loupot) 1930
    Au bon Marche, Carlu
    Cora Madou, Paul Colin, 1929
    Exposition Coloniale Internationale 1931
  • Cassandre’s Bifur a nationalistic typeface?

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    Bifur was conceived in the same spirit as a vacuum cleaner or an internal combustion engine. It is meant to answer a specific need, not to be decorative. It is this functional character that makes it suitable for use in our contemporary society. 

    With these words the French poster artist Cassandre (1901-1968) described his typeface Bifur. It was designed for the Parisian type foundry Deberny & Peignot (DP) and introduced from 1928 onwards. The way Bifur was presented and used by its creator and DP makes it a special typeface, whose importance supersedes that of its almost non existent use in printed matter. Continue reading