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Paul Colin Artist Biography

Paul Colin was one of France’s greatest poster artists, best known for creating over 1,400 posters for the Revue Nègre, as well as numerous sets and costumes. A student of Eugène Vallin and of Victor Prouvé, he is considered a master of the modern school of poster art. His style is highly personal and impossible to categorise. The evocative force of his posters for grand causes marks him as a master of visual communication and his work remains relevant and fresh today.

Paul Colin was born in 1892 in Nancy, France. As a teenager, Paul Colin apprenticed at a printing house before enrolling at L’École des Beaux-Arts, and he would later work in the company of Eugène Vallin. He was commended for his masterful integration of organic and figural subjects with geometric forms. His style, which was influenced by both Cubism and Surrealism, frequently employed bold shapes, striking colours, caricature, and highly stylised forms.

When still an aspiring artist, Paul Colin was commissioned by a friend at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees to design a poster publicizing La Revue Nègre, starring Josephine Baker. Josephine Baker accepted Colin's invitation to come to his studio to pose for the poster. Paul Colin and Josephine Baker became lovers and life-long friends. Their relationship was fortuitous for both, leading to a very successful artistic career for Colin, and introducing Baker through Colin to Paris' artistic elite. Colin also designed some film sets in the 1930s, including for Fritz Lang's Carnet le Bal (1937). Paul Colin died in 1985 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

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