Rene Wanner's Poster Page


front cover Etienne Delessert - Les Affiches
by Jean-Charles Giroud; Patrick Cramer Editeur, Geneva (CH) (2001); 120 pages, 86 full page colour illustrations; 21 x 24 cm; hardcover; in french; 30 Euro (about 25 US$)
Catalogue raisonne of the poster work of the well known swiss illustrator now living in the USA, with a detailed 25 page analysis by Giroud, the most profound and prolific author on swiss posters today.

Etienne Delessert, born 1941, grew up in Lausanne, and very much admired the posters he saw on the streets of Switzerland in his youth, so much that he drew his first posters while still in high school.

Nevertheless, he soon escaped the swiss straightjackets and left for Paris, like his compatriots Grasset, Loupot, Steinlen, and, at least temporarily, also Niklaus Troxler, and many others.

Paris could not keep him long either, and in 1964 he moves to New York which he liked, and New York liked him. Giroud quotes him as saying " A mon avis, ce pays offrait davantage de liberté d'expression, ..., les Etats-Unis etaient donc devenus une étape obligatoire de mon parcours"

He switches between countries several times more, and also between jobs, from solitary artist to head of a large advertising studio, but it is clear that he prefers the fine and often ambiguous pen of illustration over the hammer of commercial promotion, in style and in content:

1970, Etienne Delessert
Personal exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Alliance
1983, I hate to read ! Because it makes me friendly
one of a series of six posters to promote reading, published in french, english and italian versions
Illustration: Etienne Delessert
Design: Rita Marshall
1984, Kill the devil, save Supersaxo
poster asking for financial support for a movie made by Delessert
Design: Rita Marshall
1996, Etienne Delessert, Gary Kelley
Etienne Delessert and Gary Kelley are the 1995-96 recipients in illustration of the Richard Koopman Distinguished Chair in the Visual Arts at the Hartford Art School.
(Delessert drew the left side of the face, his friend Kelley the right).

What I like about Giroud's books, I have said it before, is his clear, straightforward and unpretentious style of writing, coupled with an astounding knowledge and care for details.

While I was wondering about the role of the designer of many of Delessert's posters, Rita Marshall, I thought she keeps herself in the background and shows remarkable restraint towards "her" illustrator, or else gets along very well with him and can really bring out his pictures in a joint effort. And maybe she has her own portfolio that says somewhere in the fine print "Illustration by E.D."?

And sure enough, Giroud knows and tells the answer to both questions: Rita Marshall is Etienne Delessert's wife, and has published a book "J'aime pas lire!", Paris, Gallimard, 1992.

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