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Air France: 90 Years of Posters As Destination Inspiration

Air France‘s rich history is intertwined with a captivating collection of over 1,500 posters masterfully crafted by renowned artists. These posters have been pivotal in conveying the airline’s expansive global reach. Often adorned with abstract motifs, these artworks beckon travelers to adventure in distant lands.

Air France 90 years destinations inspired dress by Xavier Ronze, the maestro behind costume design at the Paris Opera Ballet. Source: Air France

From its inception, Air France has championed French creativity and sophistication through these iconic posters. They have served as an inspiration to generations of artists. Air France has worked with illustrators, graphic designers, filmmakers, and photographers, contributing to the airline’s globally recognized advertising identity.

In its early years, Air France used posters to highlight its worldwide network and role as a global messenger. These themes were skillfully illustrated. Dreamlike depictions of starry skies, clouds, and world maps by artists like Dransy, Lucien Boucher, and Roger De Valerio.

Air France poster Dans Tous les Ciels
Air France Dans Tous Les Ciels Poster © Air France Museum Collection

Recognizing the profound impact of these posters on its brand, Air France granted its designers creative freedom, with few limitations. They had to include four key elements: the sky, airplanes, the Air France logo, and the iconic winged seahorse symbol.

Collaborations with Acclaimed Artists

The airline collaborated with acclaimed artists for its posters. They included Raymond Savignac, Albert Solon, Jean Cocteau, Victor Vasarely, Jean Picart Le Doux, and Tabuchi. All pushed the boundaries of artistic expression.

In 1956, under the artistic direction of Jean Carlu, Air France initiated a competition for poster artists. The aim was to bring far-flung destinations closer to France. This resulted in legendary posters for Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. This coincided with the boom in air travel, marked by the introduction of the Caravelle and Boeing 707.

Air France poster by Tabuchi
Air France Paris-Tokyo Poster by Tabuchi. © Air France Museum Collection

The 1960s saw Air France adopt a strategy of focusing on individual artists for poster campaigns. Visionary artists like Guy Georget, Georges Matthieu, Raymond Pagès, and Bezombes brought a dreamlike and abstract quality to the travel experience.

Air France display of posters at Galeries Lfayette.
Air France Posters on Display at Galeries Lafayette, Paris. Source: Air France

In the 1980s, as tourism flourished, Air France turned to advertising agencies. The airline unveiled an “airplane ticket” campaign with a vibrant red, white, and blue visual identity. Posters aimed to captivate customers, emphasizing their pivotal role in the company’s image.

In the late 1990s, Air France shifted its focus to calm, simplicity, and zen-like experiences. With the “Winning the World’s Heart” campaign, filmmaker Michel Gondry created poetic brand videos that resonated with travelers.

Moving from Destinations to Brand Ethos

In the 2000s, photographers Camilla Akrans and Yann Arthus Bertrand captured the essence of well-being and the world’s beauty from above.

Continuing its tradition of collaboration with leading designers, Air France introduced “L’envol,” a romantic ballet by choreographer Angelin Preljocaj.

Air France L’Envol ballet video.
Air France, France is in the Air
“Air France, France is in the air” campaign, 2014.

Today, Air France’s commitment to elegance and excellence is encapsulated in its new advertising signature: “Elegance is a journey. Air France.” This bold statement reflects the airline’s dedication to providing a French-style travel experience. In this way, the airline promotes culture worldwide and embraces a sustainable future.

Air France destination poster, elegance is a journey
Air France Elegance is a Journey poster.

The campaign poster, featuring the iconic Eiffel Tower and Air France destinations, celebrates elegance and underscores the airline’s global presence. Posters continue to evoke a sense of escapism. Throughout its 90-year history, Air France reflects aviation’s role in connecting countries, people, and cultures.

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