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Art Watch : Rene Gruau

Art Watch : Rene Gruau

Rene Gruau is our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth – watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch. 


Who is Rene Gruau

Elegance is synonymous with the work that Rene Gruau did, it was a way of life for this extremely talented Illustrator, however his life was far from easy. Interestingly enough, his art was the exact opposite of the conditions that his life must have been.

René Gruau, born in 1909, as Renato Zavagli Ricciardelli delle Camminate, to an impeccable lineage. His mother, Maria Gruau, came from a French aristocratic family and his father was an Italian count. His earliest days were spent in Rimini, Italy where he was born, but this luxury was to be short lived. When he was three years old, his parents divorced and Maria took off with her boy to live in France.

Without the luxuries of the Comtesse life, Rene inherited the aristocratic blood, the bearing, an imitable and indisputable elegance, but no financial support. He was inspired by art and was a self-taught artist. It was the work of Toulouse-Lautrec and the Japanese style of brush work that he was drawn to. 

Rene had an incredible eye for composition, when teamed with expressive brush strokes, the results were unmistakably sensational and authentic. Rene’s singular designs graced the face of international rag trade magazine from 1946 to 1984, the first of its kind. Another aspect of his work was how he balanced negative space effectively, it was the  virtue of a mature style, that would leave a lasting influence on following decades. Rene went on to produce dynamic and eclectic cover designs for several issues of International Textiles Magazine (1946 – 1986).

Claim to Fame

René Gruau produced designs for the covers of several famous fashion magazines of his times notably – Vogue, L’Officiel de la Couture et de la Mode de Paris and Sir. Additionally, he designed for the men’s magazine Club, during the late 1940’s and 1950’s.

It can be said that Rene formed a bridge between the celebrated French poster tradition and modern advertising. His illustrious clientele included front runners even then – couturiers such as Christian Dior, Givenchy, and Pierre Balmain, Vichy water, the Moulin Rouge nightclub, Air France, and Cinzano. His design for the perfume ‘Miss Dior’ of a white swan, sporting a black bow and Dior insignia and a pearl necklace – was a statement of sophisticated aesthetics that were inherited by him. With his hard work he added a sense of the Parisienne ‘je ne sais quoi’, an effortless, seductive elegance – for which he was saought after by virtually all top notch fashion houses of the day. These included Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior, Jacques Fath, Balenciaga, Elsa Schiaparelli, Rochas Lanvin, Elizabeth Arden, and Hubert de Givenchy. In 1947, he was appointed artistic director for Dior’s designs. The

Rene’s Moulin Rouge posters are museum pieces, and highly prized s collector’s pieces. His work was hosted at the Bartsch and Charlau Gallery in Munich in 1980 and is on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris.

The marriage of glamour, graphic art and innate sense of fashion made him a master of his style. Rene’s brush fell silent only when he died in 2004, when he died at the age of 95. He had continued to work till his last day. 

For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – do not miss the ART WATCH

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