This is a post about art and trains. This is a post about Albert Brenet. He was a French artist who specialised in images of ships and trains and in a kind of graphic reportage throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Albert Brenet deserves to be better known.
I can just about recall these kinds of posters in France. The new overhead electric powered trains set new standards in post-war Europe for speed, comfort and sophistication…I even had a French model railway layout when I was small!
Painting railways is more complex than it seems. If you can draw engines, ships or planes, it is quite easy to make a decent living. Brenet did better than that. He travelled the world producing images that helped recast France as the global leader of sophistication. His images have just enough of Raoul Duffy in them…
You can contrast the style of his pictures with, say, the English artists Norman Wilkinson and Terrence Cuneo. There’s more light and colour for sure.
Most of these images have a lovely typeface based on a woodblock type. I’ll get Phil to help me identify it precisely. It’s definitely pretty sophisticated in a French way.