Paul Colin (27 June 1892 in Nancy, France – 18 June 1985 in Nogent-sur-Marne) was one of France’s greatest poster artists.Made famous in 1925 by his poster for the Revue Nègre, which helped to launch the career of Joséphine Baker (who became his mistress), he worked for over forty years in the theatre, creating not only posters but also numerous sets and costumes.Very Art déco at the outset, (his Le Tumulte noir is a masterpiece of the genre), his style quickly became highly personal and impossible to categorize: the synthetic accuracy of his portraits, the evocative force of his posters for grand causes so marked him as a master of visual communication that his work today remains relevant and fresh. A student of Eugène Vallin and of Victor Prouvé, he is considered a master of the modern school of poster art. He is the author of over 1400 posters and many theatrical set and costume designs.
Posters as an art form were invented by Jules Chéret in Paris in the 1860’s. Their proliferation and refinement were the result of advances in printing technology, a relaxation of laws regulating the press, and a booming demand for the advertisement of ‘modern’ products and of the Parisian lifestyle in the Belle Epoque (1871 – 1914). In journals, books, theater programs, and posters, the graphic arts soon transcended their commercial function and became art objects sought out by art collectors worldwide.