Event: Rene Gruau: The Gruau Man: Fashion Illustration Gallery in association with Paul Smith


René Gruau, Cover for Sir #2, 1971, Gouache and ink on paper, 37 x 27 cm


Rene Gruau (1909 – 2004)
The Gruau Man

Fashion Illustration Gallery in association with Paul Smith

Wednesday March 21st – Saturday April 21st 2012

No.9 Albemarle Street,
London W1S 4BL


Fashion Illustration Gallery in association with Paul Smith No.9 Albemarle Street is delighted to present The Gruau Man an
exhibition of works on paper made by René Gruau featuring only men.

The works exhibited span a 16 year period from 1956 to 1972. They were prepared for the front covers of the magazine Sir: Men’s International Fashion Journal. Published quarterly in Amsterdam by Ludwig Katz, Sir was the baby brother publication of International Textiles magazine whose Gruau covers FIG exhibited at The Mayor Gallery at the end of 2010.

On the surface, crafted in gouache and felt tip pen, Gruau’s man is chiselled, groomed, suave and sophisticated. Suited and booted he is always dapper, sometimes depicted with a strategically dipped Trilby hat and occasionally accessorized with an umbrella or cigarette. He’s the picture of simmering machismo. He’s the man about town, a real life James Bond in control of every situation he finds himself in.

Beneath the surface and the primary colours Gruau’s man, for all his brooding self assuredness makes Lichtenstein’s Brad look positively three dimensional. When he appears with a suitcase you can’t be sure that he’s really going anywhere and the longer he strikes a pose and stares out of his frame the more one realises his eyes are connecting only with his own. He’s looking in the mir- ror and we repeatedly catch him doing so.

Gruau’s man is to Gruau’s woman what Ken is to Barbie or Leandro Penna is to Katie Price. He’s a piece of arm candy an acces- sory to fashion. He’s Gruau’s fantasy Action Man.

These works have rarely been shown. In 1972, Sir works were exhibited in Holland1 and a small group were recently showcased in London2. Works for the covers of two issues of Sir, dated 1957 and 1962, are featured in a recent monograph on Gruau3, and another appears in Cally Blackman’s 100 Years of Fashion Illustration4.



1. The Hague, Haags Gemeentemuseum, Modetekeningen van René Gruau: tekeningen, gouaches en ontewerpen 1945-1972, exhi- bition catalogue, 1972, nos.44-49.
2. London, Somerset House, Dior Illustrated: René Gruau and the Line of Beauty, 2010-2011.
3. Sylvie Nissen and Vincent Leret, Le premier siècle de René Gruau, Paris, 2009, p.97 and p.262.
4. Cally Blackman, 100 Years of Fashion Illustration, London, 2007. p.214.

image and text via Fashion Illustration Gallery

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