Le musée des Arts décoratifs on the rue de Rivoli in Paris is a must-see when I’m in Paris. They always have interesting exhibits, like the one about illustrator Eugène Grasset that’s on until March 24, 2013. The exhibit features about 15 works by Grasset that attempt to recreate the full scope of his technical ability.
Grasset, a native of Switzerland, studied architecture and then sculpture. He moved to Paris in 1871 where he worked as an illustrator of children’s books. With the success of his book projects, Grasset found lots of work designing all sorts of things: furniture, posters, façades of buildings, stained glass windows, mosaics, carpets, iron work, jewelry, calendars, and postage stamps, just to get started. His style was strongly influenced by art nouveau pioneer Gustave Doré. He juxtaposed the curving lines found in nature with strictly geometrical forms.
Today’s expression, donner un nouveau look à (dunay uhn noovoe look ah), means “to restyle” something. Grasset’s illustration were part of the new look that restyled the heaviness of past decades into something much lighter and fresher. Art nouveau is still a great look today.
Read more about him: Eugène Grasset, 1845 – 1917