Wednesday 23 January 2008

le Bouillon KUB

The distinctive graphics of the Bouillon Kub package have inspired artists as various as Cappiello and Picasso. Not bad for a humble stock cube, introduced by Julius Maggi in Switzerland and sold all over Europe. The image of a brooding, disembodied bull’s head in which a Bouillon Kub is superimposed over the left eye has become one of Leonetto Cappiello’s (1931), best known poster designs (click here to view). In the pioneering days of Cubism, Picasso and Braque were greatly amused by the ubiquitous and prominent outdoor advertising for “le Kub” and extended the joke in 1912 by including references to the product in their paintings. The best example is the “Paysage aux affiches” where a bouillon Kub is captured in a cubist townscape mesh along with a Pernod bottle.

After so many decades, it is pleasing to discover that some remnants of this publicity blitz can still be glimpsed as they fade gracefully away and an example recorded recently in Vincennes can be seen by clicking here. There is also a book published in France under the title “Maggi et la magie du Bouillon Kub” which is a copiously illustrated cultural history of the Kub in all its manifestations. As an accumulator of advertising ephemera and packaging, it was a great joy to discover, not one, but two Bouillon Kub tins in a local antique market. So, here they are, flaunting themselves, on a kitchen dresser in our home.

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