Paris & Jazz: the art of Paul Colin (1892-1985)

Born in Nancy, Paul Colin was a master of the Art Deco poster. With over 1900 posters and many book designs, theatre sets and costume designs to his name, he was one of the foremost graphic artists of the period.

Apprenticed at the age of 15 at a Nancy printing house, at 18 he enrolled at L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He excelled at his studies and made his debut into the art world with the help of Eugene Vallin, acclaimed furniture designer and architect, and Victor Prouvé painter, sculptor and engraver.

His highly individual art déco style quickly became created for him his own niche, and his reputation grew quickly; in 1912 he found himself in Paris. The young artist was, for a time, to find himself embroiled in the First World War, but on his return to Paris afterwards he quickly resumed building his career.

Paul Colin Poster


In 1925 he was commissioned by a friend at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees to design a poster publicising La Revue Nègre, starring Josephine Baker. She accepted Colin's invitation to come to his studio to pose for the poster.

The star of the show, Josephine Baker, became an overnight sensation in Paris and her career took off. An African American singer, dancer and all round entertainer, she captivated audiences with her revealing costumes, banana skirt and live cheetah.

Colin's poster for this memorable show, depicts “La Baker” with two black jazz musicians, in brilliant red and black stylised caricature.

The artist was to become La Baker's lover and lifelong friend, and she was to be his inspiration for many of the works that remain popular to this day.

During a long and successful career he produced more than 1900 posters as well as many theatrical and film sets and costume designs. Sadly, despite his considerable success and the continued interest in his work, little has been written about him outside his native France.

He passed away in Monte Carlo in 1985.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

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