Christian Dior are putting together a fantastic exhibition of the work of Rene Gruau, the prolific illustrator who became synonymous with the Dior Brand through illustrating the advertisements and posters, and a whole host of non-dior related work.
I'd never seen his work in depth before as somehow, he seems to have escaped my research and discoveries. But the more I've looked into his work, the more shocked I am at how seriously influential it clearly was.
I can see the work of David Downton and many other key illustrators within his style. His sparing use of line and shape manage to depict so much with so little; A quality I've always tried to attain within my own work, Gruau's depictions make me feel like I've discovered the true root of all influence within this style of work. I know that's not the case, as I'd be ignoring all art periods prior to Gruau, but it just feels like such a monumental discovery in terms of my own aesthetic.
The mens' illustrations in particular are a sharp contrast to the women's, showing Gruau wasn't only adept at the feminine curves and lines of women, but also representing men by using strong masculine compositions and ambiguous imagery.
Make sure you check out the exhibition starting 10th November, at Somerset House. Dior are also commissioning five contemporary UK illustrators (one of which is myself :-) ) to do a modern response to Gruau's work, which will be included in the exhibition and available in signed prints. More details on the official site.