Contemporary Art

Joyful Jean Jullien: New Monograph Review

Candy Bedworth 12 May 2022 min Read

Even if you don’t know the name, you have probably seen his artwork. Jean Jullien is a prolific French graphic artist who lives and works in Paris. He studied in London at Central St Martins and then at The Royal College of Art. Do you know that there is a gorgeous new book by Jullien published in May 2022 by Phaidon? This is a perfect summer read – get your copy now!

Jean Jullien, portrait with artwork, Phaidon Press, 2022

Photo of Jean Jullien by Daniel Arnold. Artist’s website.

Effortless Style

Jullien works across many media – painting, posters, books, photography and video, and even clothing design. His images have been tweeted and shared across global social media thousands of times. He has 1.2 million followers on Instagram. Despite this wide-ranging work profile, there is always a coherent style and a sense of humor. His minimalist black-lined doodles look deceptively simple but often involve political commentary and a keen sense of the absurd.

Jean Jullien, Vivi, Bruno, Lili, 2019

Jean Jullien, Vivi, Bruno, Lili, Lesconil sculpture series with Case Studyo, 2019. Artist’s website.

Playful

These works are bold and colorful, with a very distinctive, instantly recognizable style. Jullien is always witty, sometimes subversive, but definitely very human. This young artist has an almost child-like view of the world – playful and innocent. He grew up loving comics and cartoons, and the influence is obvious. He has written a number of children’s books, which we can highly recommend as a great gift for any young (or old) kids in your life.

Jean Jullien, Before Instagram, 2015

Jean Jullien, Before Instagram, Petit Appetit at I’Imprimerie, 2015. Artist’s website.

Partnerships

His address book reads like a list of the great and the good: The New Yorker; National Geographic; Vogue; RCA Records; Nike; London Underground; The Pompidou Centre, plus museums and galleries across the globe. He doesn’t feel stuffy about working in the commercial world, and his skill as a communicator makes him an ideal choice.

Jean Jullien, I want to be in a scary story, 2017

Jean Jullien, I Want To Be In A Scary Story, 2017. Artist’s website.

Political Conscience

There is another side to Jullien – his work can be very political. In the wake of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, Jullien responded with a peace symbol based on the shape of the Eiffel Tower. Earlier that year he published an illustration in solidarity with journalists at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine where 12 people were shot dead by terrorists in front of their offices. Both images went viral on social media.

Jean Jullien, Peace For Paris, 2015

Jean Jullien, Peace For Paris, 2015. Flickr.

The Book

This is the first and only comprehensive overview of Jean Jullien’s work and is organized into three sections: Personal, Collaboration, Public. Section One looks at the development of his work and includes a lovely conversation between Jullien and his parents, Sylvie and Bruno.

Section Two features his work with names big and small, and includes a conversation with Jullien’s college friend and clothing collaborator Jae Huh of NouNou.

Section Three shows his most widely distributed works such as magazine covers and public sculpture.

Jean Jullien, Chairs, 2019

Jean Jullien, Chairs, produced with Phamily First pop-up at Galeries Lafayette, Champs-Elysees, Paris, France 2019. Artist’s website.

Family

In the book, Jullien talks about his brother Nico and their strong filial bond. Together they set up Jullien Brothers, specializing in moving images. As best friends with a complementary skill set, they describe their collaboration as ‘play’ rather than work. Jullien is not in the mold of the archetypal tortured artist. He speaks lovingly of his family and his childhood on the French coast.

Jean Jullien, Paper People, 2021

Jean Jullien, Paper People, 2021, Parco Museum, Tokyo, Japan. Curated by Nanzuka Underground. Artist’s website.

Jean Jullien, Fernand Surfboards, 2021

Jean Jullien, Fernand Surfboards, 2021. Artist’s website.

Joyful

This book is jam-packed with early sketches and never-before-seen works. If you love graphic art or contemporary illustration, then this is a must-buy. It would also be well-received by absolutely anyone with a quirky outlook or in need of a laugh. This comprehensive monograph is joyful and witty, and it’s just the read we need after the last couple of years of lonely lockdown.

Jean Jullien,Digressions pariétales, 2020

Jean Jullien, Digressions pariétales, 2020, exhibition, Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon, Lyon, France.

Jean Jullien was published by Phaidon in May 2022 and is available for purchase!

For more on Jean Jullien, see the artist’s website.

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