En poursuivant votre navigation sur ce site, vous acceptez l'utilisation de cookies. Ces derniers assurent le bon fonctionnement de nos services. En savoir plus.


Courmes and advertising: Forerunner ? Pop star before others ? 7th, Issue.



“ In our present life are themes of ideas and thoughts delivered by the “intensive” monsavon2.jpgdubonnet.jpgadvertising mania of the time (expressed in 1936) and they deserve to be assimilated by the painter. Poster designers owe much to painters, samewise, painters can gather a lot of valuable information by consulting these masters of modern posters like Loupot, Paul Colin, Cassandre or Jean Carlu. An invention like Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet, a poster like the one of the soap Monsavon do not only seduce the crowd, but have also an effect in Artists minds” Talks with Alfred Courmes, reported by René Barotte, The free man, 1936. 

“Alfred Courmes will not borrow ideas from these masters of wall posters, but among what was the most popular art in street advertising (….) Twenty years later, his ideas will be retained by the Pop Art movement” Michel Wlassikoff, Jean-Pierre Bodeux, in “The fantastic and exemplary story of baby Cadum”, Syros-Alternatives editor, 1990. 




One of the first outcome of an advertising theme in Alfred Courmes paintings dates back to 1932: “Rest time during the flee toEgypt” (painting hereunder). It is the baby Cadum created by the painter Arsène Le Feuvre. Said baby will be used in a number of paintings including “Ex-voto to San Sebastian” now shown at theOrsay Museum the exhibition called Masculin – Masculin”. (refer to comments on this topic). Afterwards will be used the famous Bibendum of Michelin Tires and the equally famous little girl of Menier chocolates, already seen in the painting "45% of B.A." bought by Coluche (refer to comments on this subject)





32 Le repos pendant la fuite en Egypte hui1932210.jpg


    “Rest time during the flee to Egypt”,1932, oil on cardboard, (21x 28), private ownership. © adagp


The Bibendum appears suddenly in preliminary drawings, drafts of 1934 and 1935. They are preparing the “Holly Family” painting. Joseph is represented by the Michelin Bibendum and the Holly Child under design of the Cadum baby.


35 La vierge avec le bébé cadum et Saint-joseph min1935268.jpg34 La vierge, l'enfant e saint Joseph min1934267.jpg

Preliminary drawings for a “Holly Family”, 1934-1935© adagp 


But one will wait till 1968 to see these advertising emblems in a finished work. Gabriel angel will be represented as the Bibendum where the Holly Virgin will appear like another emblem of advertising, the pin-up girl of Schweppes Indian Tonic water. A preliminary work on this subject dates back to 1948. Thirty years will have been necessary to bring the idea to perfection.



68 La pneumatique salutation angélique hui196837.jpg


“La pneumatique salutation angélique” 1968, oil on canvas, (82 x 100cm). Owned by the contemporary national art      fund, deposited at the Roubaix museum “La Piscine”. © adagp


“Courmes thinks that a good joke must not be understood right away, even partly. Nevertheless, this painting was in 1968 mentioned in the exhibition catalogue (Salon de Mai) with the following comment: “The connoisseur and amateur will kindly notice that the angel  extends a lily flower, designed and painted with peculiar care. The important point is the lily.” To say the truth, this does not clarify things, but causes the artist a pleasure on the literary ground. He names these texts “my little poems” and he takes time to think about them, would they be incorporated in his paintings or not” Jean-Marc Campagne, Alfred COURMES, Prospecteur de mirages entre ciel et chair.  Eric Losfeld editor, 1973.

This painting, deposited at theRoubaix museum “La Piscine” is unfortunately not shown in public exhibitions.



48 La pneumatique salutation angélique hui1948136.jpg

Study for a “Pneumatique salutation angélique”, 1948, oil on wood (28 x 34), private ownership© adagp


“ Not caring for classical painters, Courmes does not care as well for emblems of his time, such as advertising….” Extract of the foreword by Michel Onfray, for the book of Vitalie Andriveau – Gilles Bernard, Alfred COURMES, cherche-midi editor, 2003.


The symbolic behind the representation of the angel as a Bibendum could come from the greek word pneumatikos, the breathing, the spirituality … For those who want to know more, see the text of Denys Riout (text in french), philosopher of art.

 Extract: “The image shown weaves ill-assorted elements : ancient ruins, the modern pavement, a view on the very Parisian canal Saint Martin (détail), a book with blank pages (history must endlessly be rewritten), a virgin white lily (détail), the Holly Mary as a pin-up girl (détail), Gabriel seeming just coming out of an enamel slab.”




Some History

images.jpgimages (1).jpgThe Michelin Bibendum has been created by Marius Rossillon (1867 – 1946), nicknamed O’Galop, more than a century ago, but it has permanently been modernized by the pencils of many designers. The Bibendum borrowed by Courmes is the one of Albert Philibert, father of the Bibendum with the rolling tire, with one hand up and no cigar in his mouth…( on the subject see BIBimage)



To know more:


”La pneumatique salutation angélique” has been shown:


1968, WWIVth Salon de Mai, from May 4th to 26th,Paris.

- 1977,  “Mythologie quotidienne”, 10th Biannual exhibition of¨Paris, Palace of Tokyo, from September 17th to November 1st,Paris.

- 1977, Private exhibition, Gallery Jean Briance, October to November,Paris.

- 1979, “French Art”, Serpentine Gallery,London.

- 1979, Retrospective, Paintings Museum, from May 16th to August 20th,Grenoble.

- 1989  Roubaix, "La Piscine", museum from April 29th to June 11th (extended to June 25th)

- 1989, Retrospective, Sainte Croix Museum, from July 3rd to September 4th,Poitiers.

- 1989, Retrospective, Georges Pompidou Museum, from September 12th to October 22nd, (except on October 5th due to a strike of the museum staff)Paris.

- 1989, Retrospective, Saint Roche museum, from October 21st to December 17th, Issoudun.

- 2009/2010, « Voyous, voyants, voyeurs »Clovis Trouille time (1889 – 1975), Louis Senlecq museum of Art and History, from November 28th to March 7th, L’Isle-Adam.


“La pneumatique salutation angélique” has been quoted in:


- Jean-Marc Campagne, Alfred COURMES, Photographs by Robert Doisneau, Jacqueline Hyde, Marc Vaux. Eric Losfeld editor, 1973, page 53.

- Vitalie Andriveau – Gilles Bernard, Alfred COURMES, foreword by Michel Onfray, cherche Midi editor, 2003, pages 142/143.


* Denys Riout teaches modern and contemporary art at Paris I university Pantheon-Sorbonne. He published, among other works:  Qu’est-ce que l’art moderne? (What is modern art), Paris, Gallimard editor, Collection “Folio Essais”, 2000, reedited in 2009; The one colour painting. History and archaeology of a kind of painting, initial edition     enriched, Paris, Gallimard editor, collection “Folio Essais”, 2006; Yves Klein. Manifester l’immatériel, Paris, Gallimard, collection « Art and Artists», 2004. He finished at this time a book devoted to « unvisible artist’s works »