For Gatsbies and grifters alike, the Art Deco era encouraged high-class and streamlined aesthetics in fashion—as well as in art and design. To complete the look, hats were essential, and dapper men had all sorts of accessorizing options to choose from, including boaters, derbies, fedoras, top hats, and bowlers. Naturally, posters from the era feature the stylish fella with Deco visual trends: clean geometric lines, spare typography, saturated colors, and a strong dose of whimsy. In anticipation of our 77th Rare Posters Auction, our Editorial Director, Jessica Adams, created this Art Deco collage from some of her favorite upcoming lots. Scroll down to see her collage, as well as each of the original posters she incorporated.
37 1/4 x 49 1/2 in./94.6 x 125.8 cm
This sardonically whimsical portrait of Charlie Chaplin, by an unknown artist, may have been made around the time of his final short film, Pay Day—it was released in 1922, coinciding with the stamped police permit seen here, from that same year. In the movie, Chaplin plays an expert bricklayer who wants to enjoy himself after a hard day’s work—much to his wife’s chagrin. Perhaps that explains the dour look on his face here. See artist mark, lower right.
36 x 50 1/8 in./91.6 x 127.3 cm
For the Swiss men’s store, Barberis has envisioned the most effortlessly dapper man: the ever-urbane PKZ man shows his gemütlich Alpine side in a brown tweed jacket, yellow muffler, loden hat, and pigskin gloves. Even out for a casual stroll, he completes his impeccable PKZ image with a boutonniere and pocket handkerchief. Figuratively speaking, Barberis doffed one hat for another throughout his career, as he alternated between poster and fashion design, and children’s book illustration.
14 x 18 1/4 in./35.6 x 46.2 cm
This maquette is the image of Art Deco elegance: the streamlined stained glass panels, the women’s fur coats and Hollywood frocks, and of course, the cherry red Lincoln that reflects the evening light—all signs that this American luxury car is perfect for the French bourgeoisie. In fact, the Saint-Didier model was advertised as “la voiture de vrai luxe.”
46 x 61 7/8 in./117 x 157 cm
“This design featuring three hand-held hats appears so deceptively simple one is tempted to feel that there’s nothing to it; yet, the careful, rhythmic composition creates a pattern so upbeat that it gives the product an unmistakable aura of class. The Mossant firm, in existence since the 1860s, was known for high-quality hats—especially men’s hats, whose expensive models were made from pile of rabbit and hare—and Cappiello conveys it perfectly, making it look easy in the bargain” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 324).
43 3/4 x 60 in./111 x 152.5 cm
We know little of this music hall performer, other than he was a headliner at the Concert Mayol, performing alongside Damia, Polaire, and Dranem, among others. And the artist remains a mystery. But does it even really matter? We can’t help but be taken by this gent’s humble grin, his pre-Michael Jackson get-up, and his “here’s lookin’ at you!” gesture. Perhaps the less we know, the more interesting this image becomes.
14 1/4 x 23 3/8 in./36.3 x 59.4 cm
In 1935, Chevalier had just starred in the American musical comedy “Folies Bergère de Paris,” which he claimed was his own favorite of his films—until a billing dispute occurred with MGM. Frustrated, he left Hollywood to return to his Parisian music-hall career, and would not star in another movie for 20 years. Here, Kiffer has depicted the performer winsomely sauntering back towards Europe, as ever joined by his band of devotees in the trademark boater hats.
28 3/4 x 41 1/8 in./73 x 104.5 cm
This supremely Art Deco illustration promotes the 29th Congress of the National Union of French Students (UNEF) in 1930 in French Algeria. Up to this day, UNEF has a presence across all French universities, and aims to defend the interests and needs of students. While little more is known of the context behind this particular event, we are undeniably enraptured by the artist’s geometric use of line, pastel color palette, and desire for camaraderie for French and Algerian students. This poster is exceptionally rare.
47 1/4 x 62 3/8 in./120 x 158.4 cm
This vivacious Art Deco poster combines aesthetic styles and imagery to explore the world of “The Woman of My Dreams,” a musical comedy that was released as a French film in 1931. Tidbits of the plot arise out of the scene, including a banjo player, a troupe of suited dancers, nighttime city lights, a dapper duo, and a bottle of champagne that punctuates the festive scene. The film would later be reprised by Michael Curtis in 1952; Doris Day was the star. It’s also worth noting that we believe the artist dropped her maiden name after designing this poster, and then signed her work with her married name: Germaine Verna. During her time in Paris, she was closely associated with a group of artists known as “les Montparnos.”