Monday 22 May 2017

Charles Gesmar - part 1

Charles Gesmar (born Geismar), simply known as Gesmar, was one of the greatest designers of costumes and posters during the golden age of the Paris music hall during the Jazz Age and was primarily renowned for his work for the great Parisian star Mistinguett. Although his tenure was short, his output was prolific and his creativity and talent unrivalled at the time.


Charles Geismar was born in Nancy in 1900 to a Jewish family. He attended the drawing School of Applied Arts of Auguste Vallin, and at the outbreak of the Great War, the Geismar family sought refuge in Paris. Here in early 1915, Charles met Mlle Andrée Spinelly, the famous actress-dancer who was enthusiastic about his work and asked him to design her costumes, previously created by the couturier Paul Poiret. Gesmar also designed for "L’Arciduc," a show at the Folies Bergere in October 1916 and provided illustrations for "La Baionette," "La Vie Parisienne," and "Fantasio" and "Le Rire."

Andrée Spinelly

Allegedly, effeminate and neurotic, one day in early 1917 in Spinelly’s house, he tried to shoot himself after an altercation with the actress but the bullet went into the lavatory cistern and flooded the house instead. Spinelly was not amused and their relationship ended. Mistinguett, often called the “Queen of the Paris Music Hall” was impressed by his unique talent and took him under her wing as her costume designer, describing him as "one of those gentle, ultra-sensitive lads, so feminine that you felt one harsh word would have shattered him." Over the next decade, although he designed mostly for Mistinguett, he was in great demand by all the main music halls in Paris.

Despite his unique relationship with Mistinguett, Gesmar created costumes and poster designs for most of the stars of the Paris Music Hall, including Barbette, Maurice Chevalier, the Dolly Sisters, Gilda Gray, Earl Leslie, Jane Marnac, and Mitty and Tillio, to name but a few.

In late 1923 Gesmar went to New York with Mistinguett, travelling aboard "Leviathan" from Cherbourg, arriving on the 26th November. He designed all the costumes for the Shubert revue "Innocent Eyes," starring Mistinguett, that was launched in Atlantic City in January 1924 followed by a regional run before opening at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York on 20th May 1924.

Gesmar’s costumes and graphics caused as much excitement at the time that was equal to the that shown a few years earlier by the elegance of Leon Bakst’s Ballets Russes. The seductive and sophisticated elegance of his art influenced generations of graphic designers and he was indisputably a bridge linking the works by other two great artists who worked for the Moulin Rouge, Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) and René Gruau (1909-2004).

Gesmar allegedly died of pneumonia in February 1928, before his 28th birthday.

This is part 1 of a 2-part post on the works of Charles Gesmar:

1916 La Baionnette magazine illustration
Celle du Sucre

1917 Maurice Chevalier 160 x 117 cm

Maurice Chevalier

1917 Mistinguett
115.8 x 157 cm

1918  Jane Marnac
107.6 x 149.4 cm

Jane Marnac

1919 Comoedia Illustré magazine
( Andrée Spinelly )

1919? Spinelly
watercolour 48.3 x 31.4 cm

1919? Spinelly 

1920 Costume design
watercolour and ink 47.6 x 31 cm

1920c Costume design
watercolour and pencil 38 x 21.2 cm

1920c Jane Marnac

1921 Mistinguett
lithograph 132 x 113 cm

1921c Costume design
gouache and pencil 25.5 x 33.8 cm

1921c Costume design 
gouache and pencil 25.5 x 33.8 cm

1921c Costume design 
gouache and pencil 25.5 x 33.8 cm

1921c Woman with a Swan
gouache and crayon 35.2 x 31.2 cm

1922 Leslie, Casino de Paris
( Earl Leslie )

1922 Mistinguett Casino de Paris
116.2 x 156 cm

1922 Mistinguett
gouache and pencil on paper 73.7 x 53.3 cm

1922 Mistinguett, Casino de Paris
112.2 x 152.4 cm

1922 Mistinguett, Casino de Paris
116.6 x 157.5 cm

1922 Spinelly
158 x 118 cm

1923 Casino de Paris

1923 Mistinguett

1923 Sheet music cover
L'Amour au Claire de Lune

1924 Leslie

1924 Mistinguett, Moulin Rouge

1925 Elvire Popesco 159.4 x 120 cm

Elvire Popesco

1925 Dancer

1925 Gilda Gray
colour lithograph 153.4 x 103.2 cm

Gilda Gray

1925 Guy Sarlin
157.5 x 117 cm

1925 Jane Pierly

Jane Pierly
1925 Lucienne Delahaye
Lucienne Delahaye

1925 Mistinguett
112.4 x 157.3 cm

1925 Mistinguett
116.9 x 159.6 cm

1925 Mistinguett
120 x 159.6 cm

1925 Mistinguett
154.9 x 114.3 cm

1925 Mistinguett in Bonjour Paris, Revue du Casino de Paris
colour lithograph 31 x 24 cm

1925 Mistinguett in Bonjour Paris, Revue du Casino de Paris
colour lithograph 59.4 x 82.5 cm

1925 Mondain Cours de Danse, Roger's Gallais
lithograph 119 x 79 cm

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.