Pierre Fix-Masseau

French Poster Artist in the Art Deco style Son of sculptor Pierre Felix Fix-Masseau


Pierre Fix-Masseau (1905-1994) was a leading poster designer in the Art Deco period whose work reveals a fascination with the high speed and new technology which typified the preoccupations of the age. Transport was one of the most popular themes in Art Deco posters and Fix-Masseau’s work is dominated by ships, cars and trains. Where Art Nouveau was characterised by swirls and curves, Art Deco was defined by geometry and straight lines which were ideally suited to this new subject matter. Consequently, the leading poster artists of the day - Rex Whistler, Cassandre and Fix-Masseau - would often be commissioned by companies wishing to promote leisure and tourism. Fix-Masseau’s artistic philosophy: ‘be simple, be direct, and use a universal language’ was exactly suited to the medium of the poster.

‘Exactitude’ from 1929 is Fix-Masseau’s most celebrated work. The painting depicts a boldly foreshortened image of a train which has just pulled into a station – the title and the precision of the image suggesting that it is exactly on time. The painting is typical of the period with strong lines, sharp angles and dark block. French Railways turned the painting into a poster to be used in a promotional campaign by the French State (Etat) Railway. Fix-Masseau went on to produce a series of posters for the company which aimed to reflect the speed and glamour of train travel at this time. It was an exciting time, full of innovation in design, technology and lifestyles.

In 1936 the artist was commissioned by Renault to promote a new line of cars brought out in response to France’s first paid holidays. The new cars had bigger boots, wider openings and comfier seats ideal for a day out with a picnic in the country. His posters for France's national railroads, Chemins de Fer, the National Lottery and the tobacco company, Regie des tabacs are some of the most celebrated.

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