Avant-garde Air France

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There are, of course, well-known connections between Air France and the cinema (Michel Gondry, Hou Hsiao Hsien), design (Raymond Loewy, Charlotte Perriand) and gourmet dining (Paul Bocuse, Guy Martin). But those with contemporary painting are less well-known.

Yet a number of leading avant-garde painters have executed works for the Company to embody its spirit of boldness and refinement. In the 1960s, our Boeing 707s were decorated with modern tapestries designed by 25 major creators including Sonia Delaunay and Pierre Soulages and woven in the Aubusson workshops.

In the 1970s, at a time when our menus sported designs by other leading abstract artists such as André Masson and Serge Poliakoff, the most inspired artists of the day, like Hans Hartung or Zao Wou Ki (see photo above), were commissioned to decorate the doors of the cloakrooms on Air France B747s. The B747 also came with extra space used to display real paintings done by rising masters of colour and space, including the Belgian artist Pierre Alechinsky. Art also ennobled travel areas on the ground.

The La Première lounge at Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle has exhibited the prince of graffiti, Keith Haring, and the king of assemblages, David Mach. And at the Air France Head Office, a huge kinetic volume by Jesús Soto, formed of coloured spheres, even today welcomes visitors with its tactile vibrations.

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