Monday, March 14, 2011

Paris Plaisirs: Magazine Tres Parisien 1920s/30s

Kiki de Montparnasse, cover late 1920s

Another favorite French magazine of the 1920s and 1930s is the, mostly unknown, Paris Plaisirs. It is comparable to the legendary, large format art deco era, La Vie Parisienne in style and size, while focusing on the stars of the music-hall. Paris Plaisirs also differed in another major aspect: it used photographs as well as illustrations in each issue. Many covers featured the creativity of Austrian 
photographer Manasse.

Part of the attraction of Paris Plaisirs, besides the obvious, is the amazing (unintentional) lines created by the French in the way they used images of women as the seductress. The representations ranged from hard boiled, tough girl, Kiki de Montparnasse (above) to passive posing (cover below) to all out femmes fatale as seen in most of the remaining covers in this post. Later, in the early 1930s, Paris Plaisirs and many other European pop-culture magazines recognized the attraction of Hollywood celebrity. In the last two covers, this "magazine tres Parisian", puts two major American movie stars on covers: first Ginger Rogers and on the final cover in this post, Jean Harlow.

Note that all the photographs used in Paris Plaisirs were made in black and white as the first true color film was not available until 1937. The creative solution was quite ingenious and used to lesser and greater success by many publishers. A "color separator" working with a "colorist" would create areas of color in solids, shades and tones similar to the method used to color the artwork for comic books. Other than the techniques needed to make this process convincing was the necessity to let the photo "come through" the colorization and not creating an illustration.

Interior pages of photos and illustrations and front covers follow without captions and in no particular order. Click on each image and a larger version of the scan will open in the same window.

Note: Click here to view issues of Paris Plaisirs and similar French magazines of the 1920s and 1930s available for sale in my eBay store.

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