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Jean Carlu

Updated: Sep 22, 2022

Academy of Art University

Instructor: William Kloepfer Class: 150 Years of American Illustration — GLA 629 OL1

12.2 Illustrator Profile

By: A Aljoheri

Creation date: Sunday, May 8, 2022

Jean Carlu

1900 – 1997

Poster Artist, Painter, Graphic Designer, and Architect.

Every war has its heroes, and the heroes are not only soldiers but also teachers, doctors, engineers, and artists. Each of them supports his country in its worst times by influencing people positively to motivate them to work and believe in their countries' victory. And one of these influencers was Jean Carlu, who worked with a group of graphic designers, illustrators, and painters for the U.S office of war information.

This office was responsible for keeping people fully informed of what was going on war, and for influencing people to join the military through posters and designs which were widely distributed all over the United States. So, who was Jean Carlu, and what was his role and work in America?

Jean Carlu was born in Bonnières-sur-Seine, France (1900), and lived for 97 years. He lived with a family of architects, and he was getting ready to study architecture, but at the age of 18, he had a car accident, and his arm was crushed, therefore, he lost his arm and shifts his studies from architecture to graphic design.

He started as a designer despite being with one hand in 1919. He worked as an illustrator for two years in an advertising design agency and his first poster was the original Charlie Chaplin movie poster “Le Gosse (The Kid)”. Then, he made fantastic special posters between WWI and WWII like:

Graphic art for Mouton Rothschild, 1924. Used for wine lables and branding.
Graphic art for Mouton Rothschild, 1924. Used for wine lables and branding.

Details of the artwork

Jean Carlu

Château mouton - Rothschild, 1924

Prints & Graphic Art

3 1/4 x 4 inches

In 1939, preparations for the New York City World's Fair began, so Carlu was invited to New York to prepare for the French Exposition, which attracted many European immigrants, but he did not return immediately after the fair, where he resided in the United States for 14 years and had positive effects on the American people when WWII broke out, he worked for the US Office of War Information, and he then worked for The Container Corporation of America. Carlu was a great artist who made influential and purposeful posters that support his military and people.

After the war, he worked for "Pan American Airways" until he came back to France in 1952. Here are some of his posters during and after the war:

In his home country, he worked for Air France, Perrier and La Rosé. He continued with the same outstanding level in drawing posters, even with the increased use of cameras in advertisements and magazines, and decreasing in dealing with illustrators, which impressed his students with his creativity and innovative and distinguished ideas. He was the International President of AGI from 1945 to 1956 and retired in 1974.

He married on April 11, 1927, but he divorced after 16 years. His works were never affected. Here are some of his posters from 1953 and his death (1997):

He died in Nogent-sur-Marne, France 1997. While both American and international design traditions is going on to reflect his influence.



Many artists, throughout the years of wars, secede from their work and utilized their talents as illustrators or designers to help fight for victory. The poster was a tool for encouraging the people and motivating them into supporting war efforts. Although the Allies ultimately defeated the Nazi regime because of the help of propaganda poster designs, many artists still regret their contributions and blame themselves up to now for the countless soldiers that died.



Transatlantic Perspective. Jean Carlu (1900-1997). Graphic designer and proponent of modern art in advertising. Written by Jan Logemann, Ph.D., German Historical Institute.

Smithsonian American Art Museum. Jean Carlu.

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