When he came out of the Beaux-Arts in 1933, he asked the celebrated author of the 'Revue Nègre,' Paul Colin, if he shouldn't change his name. The first Colin laughed, and 15 years later laughed no more, as the second Colin, Jean, overshadowed the first.
After doing 'social propaganda' posters during the occupation, Jean Colin turned to cinema posters. Among these were his for 'L'Appel du Silence' and 'Zéro Conduite' films.
After 1950 he switched to more lucrative advertising posters, and his talents helped the notoriety of postwar products such as Cinzano, Kiwi shoe polish, Philips razors, and services like Air France, the SNCF, and auto equipment manufacturer Marchal.
After 1970, advertising agencies switched to the less memorable photographic posters we see today, and artists like Jean Colin and his contemporaries drifted into the past.
The Forney's current exhibition of Jean Colin's posters, has been augmented by 120 original posters, loaned by his daughter.
The library's present collection was begun with a donation by the industrialist, Samuel Forney, in 1886. At first the collection concerned artisanal and decorative arts items, but it was later widened to include painting, sculpture and architecture. The collection was moved from its original location to the Hôtel de Sens in 1961.
The Bibliothèque Forney has over 200,000 volumes, from the 18th century up to our time. Its specialized periodical selection is huge, and includes 40,000 exhibition catalogues, including those for auctions and commercial galleries.
For posters, there are 5000 examples, dating from 1880 to 1945; and the rest are modern. These are available for viewing, in the form of diapositives - or slides. The collection of postcards numbers over a million; and there are 2000 albums of slides featuring photo-essays of artisans at work.