“Etienne Nicolas was one of the rare captains of industry, who quite naturally invested as much of his talent in the choice of artist to whom he entrusted his image as he did in the management of his affairs. He asked Cassandre frequently to illustrate his luxury catalogues and in 1935for a poster. Rarely has an image so sensually captured the richness of a great red wine. Working from a rigorous layout on a base treated ‘à la Cassandre’, he managed, through his mastery of the Airographe to bring out the luminous rubis of the wine being poured into the glass. An irristable invitation to ‘tasting’ in the spirit of the ‘purist’ artist d'Amésée Ozenfant.” - Alain Weill
Born Adolphe Jean-Marie in Kharkov, Ukraine to French parents, Cassandre settled in Paris in 1915. After a brief stint at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts he enrolled in Lucien Simon's independent studio, followed by the Académie Julian. Needing to earn a living he began working for the Parisian printing house Hachard at the Place de la Madelaine. Very quickly Cassandre forged a highly distinctive style inspired by cubism and surrealism. 'Au Bûcheron' (1923), a poster created for a cabinetmaker won first prize at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs. Quickly, Cassandre became successful enough that with the help of partners he was able to set up his own advertising agency called Alliance Graphique. Serving a large variety of clientele it produced a large number of widely acclaimed posters.
During the 1930s, his creations for the Dubonnet wine company were among the first posters designed in a manner that allowed them to be seen by occupants in fast-moving vehicles. In 1936, following a successful retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Cassandre began designing covers for Harper's Bazaar. After a brief spell in the French army, he began to focus on easel painting. His work was exhibited at the Galerie René Drouin in Paris in 1942, and up until the mid-Fifties he neglected his poster art almost completely, continuing to work on painting and spending a great deal of time on set and costume designs for the theatre.