“I think that cars are almost the exact equivalent of the great Gothic cathedrals; I mean the supreme creation of an era, conceived with passion by unknown artists, and consumed in image if not in usage by a whole population which appropriates them as a purely magical object.” – Roland Barthes, Mythologies, 1957
“And suddenly I realized that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension.” – Ayrton Senna
33 1/8 x 44 7/8 in./84.2 x 114 cm
One of Mangold’s finest designs, SAFIR brilliantly exemplifies the dark fantasies of power, speed and sexuality associated with the car industry. Founded in 1906, SAFIR was a shortened version of the title Swiss Automobile Factory. While the poster is extraordinary, the company itself only stayed in production through 1910, with only a few dozen cars ever produced under its name. Rare!
39 3/8 x 59 3/8 in./100 x 151 cm
The joys of driving: the elegant, bouquet-toting blonde is giving you smoldering looks as the driver’s-side door beckons. Both have an elegant allure in this majestic ad for a driving school. The car’s hood so perfectly continues the line of the road, the entire work should be considered a masterpiece of composition and visual messaging. The multitalented Falcucci – painter, decorator, illustrator, posterist – began his involvement with auto graphics at Renault but became best known for his Monaco poster designs of the 1930s.
108 7/8 x 155 1/4 in./276.4 x 394.3 cm
Starting in 1923, Codognato began a long and fruitful relationship with Fiat, producing numerous posters for the Turin-based auto manufacturer. Of those many designs, this is by far one of his best – a dynamic and playful image wherein a young rogue prepares to toss a stone at the otherwise-perfect automobile. This is the rare, four-sheet format.
31 1/4 x 38 3/8 in./79.3 x 97.5 cm
This is the only known copy of Hohlwein’s ad for the 1914 Mercedes 28/95. For Mercedes’ most exclusive, most powerful auto model of 1914, Hohlwein took the top down, allowing our eyes to rise from the form of the car to the craggy, sublime Alps to which the driver is pointing: “Up there! We shall take it up there!” It’s a clever allusion to the 28/95’s innovative engine, with its overhead camshaft and valves arranged in a V-position – a design copied from the Daimler DF-80 aircraft engine. While Hohlwein created two other Mercedes ads in 1914 (for different model autos), the outbreak of the Great War sharply curtailed production of the 28/95 and, we suspect, suspended distribution of Hohlwein’s poster. Quite possibly unique.