Reopening of the exhibition “Signé Jacno, un graphisme brut pour un théâtre populaire” presented in full from September 10 to December 14 in “la boîte noire” on the ground floor of Jean Vilar House
Thirty years ago, Marcel Jacno passed away.
Thirty years ago, the newly established Maison Jean Vilar paid tribute to him by putting on an exhibition of his work for the TNP (Theatre National Populaire).
Sixty years ago, Raoul-Jean Moulin, art critic for the Les Lettres Françaises magazine wrote an article entitled “ Do you know Jacno, artist of our time ? ”
The same question could be asked today.
All you have to do is show some of his work to hear “Oh right, I recognize that ! That’s Jacno ? I love that piece ! ”
His creations and his work have found their way into our pockets, our houses, our streets and our lives, or rather those of our parents and grandparents and thus by proxy, our own.
Jacno is a multifaceted artist.
Jacno : typeface designer.
– Designer, typographer with a love of let ters, he designed various typefaces for many projects. Some of these designs have remained unseen to this day, while others have been made famous through adverts in magazines, cinema and theatre programmes as for example the – typefaces Film, Scribe, Jacno and Chail lot created for the TNP. Jacno : poster designer. At the end of the 1920s Jacno worked in cinema and signed his name on posters La Valse de for movies by Charlie Chaplin, with Marie Bell and Pierre Blachar l’Adieu that he adorned with Loulou and Pabst’s a charcoal drawing of Louise Brooks. At this time in history Jacno had already shown his talent as an artist, having created caricatures for articles written by his childhood friend Pierre Lazareff for the newspaper Le Soir. In the 1930s he started working in theatre by creating programmes and posters for the Ambassadors’ theatre, currently known as the Espace Cardin. However it was in 1951 that he was given free reign to fully express his artistic talents when – he met Jean Vilar who asked him to de sign a logo for his newly created Theatre National Populaire. – Thanks to his participation in the suc cess of the TNP in Chaillot and Avignon, Jacno continued to contribute to the – visual identity of a number of big Pari sian theatres such as the Alhambra, the – Théâtre des Nations, the Opéra, the Co médie-Française, the TEP, the Athénée Louis Jouvet and the Bouffes du Nord.
Jacno : packaging designer.
In the 1930s Jacno started designing packaging for the Seita (French State Owned Tobacco Monopoly) for fun. In – 1935 he was asked to revamp the Gau loise packet and he continued to do so until 1947. He also signed his work on the Gauloise packet, an uncommon practice at that time. This was an ingenious idea – as in his own words, it made him a “re cord holder” for the most signed work as 1.5 billion packets were printed per month. Wrapping, packaging, bottling, over the years Jacno worked for prestigious brands such as Revillon and Guerlain – perfumes, cosmetics brand Harriet Hub bar Ayer, and the alcoholic beverage companies Courvoisier and Cinzano for whom he spent many hours testing out – different shapes and mouldings. Some times after many different sketches it was something simple that created the final design, such as when he enlarged the Z in Cinzano to give us the red and blue logo we still recognize to this day.
Jacno : layout designer.
From his skills as a typographer, Jacno naturally moved towards page layout. This field, although somewhat restrictive by virtue of its requirements for clarity, rhythm, identity and composition, was not unappealing to Jacno. He worked on – the complete layout of numerous publi cations, including the Bible by the Club bibliophile de France, which he worked – on for four years. He worked on the ma gazine advertising layouts for Chanel and Lip. He developed the formats for – L’Observateur and France Soir, the head line design for newspapers Ici, Paris, Radar and Detective and the title page for a number of theatre revues. He also created logos, labels and book covers – for publishers Julliard, Denoël, Pierre Ho ray and Hachette. Some of these book – covers have become part of literary his tory, such as his iconic green line design by Françoise Sagan Bonjour Tristesse for printed in 1954. Don’t we all know Marcel Jacno? – Jacno is in fact one of those many ar tists whose work is better known than his name. His creations have infiltrated the intimacy of our daily lives in the form – of books, perfumes, cigarettes and pos – ters. It’s an ingenious artform that cap tivates our subconscious; the artwork – of a man of contrasts, both wildly crea tive and meticulous, timid and daring, modern and simple. Jacno was able to work for a popular theatre and a brand of cosmetics, for the publications l’Arche and Detective, for Guerlain perfumes and Nylfrance nylons, for Primior wines and Courvoisier Cognac. It’s an expression that is best felt through the artist’s own creative experience. For this reason we have chosen to focus on some of his initial drawings, his free, raw, fertile rough sketches, and not only to show finished works. It is through these numerous collages, etchings, tracings, pieced together – and repainted rough work, rudimenta ry sketches, that we can connect with his creative process. It is in these early stages of his work that we can perhaps best see his stroke of genius.