Marcello Dudovich was born in Trieste to Serbian parents who encouraged him to pursue art—after completing school, he worked with his father as a lithographer and illustrator for advertising art, prints, and posters. In 1897, he moved to Milan, and was recruited by the music publisher Ricordi; he became their director of advertising design. Dudovich generated a unique creative vision that is at once sublime and playful, and this led him to become one of Italy’s most celebrated designers.
“The poster with which he won a competition organized by the Borsalino Company in 1910 has been described by Attilio Rossi in these almost metaphysical terms: ‘It actually anticipates the so-called ‘poster-object’ later theorized by the German, L. Bernhard. In fact, in that dominant and unusual yellow light that invades the entire poster, the ‘still-life’ of the article to be advertised, the black bowler hat, becomes the inseparable protagonist while the armchair, the gloves and the stick recite sotto voce their subordinate role to the distinction and courtliness of the product'” (Hillier, p. 221). This is the larger, two-sheet format of this magnificent work.
Anticipation ripples across this scene: an elegantly dressed group is enraptured by the golden liqueur being poured from a bottle of Campari, its Greek relief visible between ochre, lilac, and lemon dresses. Only one guest allows her eyes to wander: the lady in the rosebud frock catches our eyes, as if she turned her head at the moment the shutter was pressed. The scene is quintessential Dudovich: sophisticated colors, theatrical staging, and visual narration unite to create an indelible and intoxicating atmosphere that evokes the joie de vivre of this artist’s world. This is a two-sheet poster.
Four soldiers, four flags, four firearms raised in solidarity “For the Freedom and Civilization of the World.” Simple and powerful, these American, French, Italian, and British symbols make for a powerful lithographic inducement to participate in a late-World War I Italian bond drive. At the age of nineteen, Dudovich arrived in Italy from his native Trieste. After an initial stint at Ricordi, he was hired at Chappuis in Bologna. He was there from 1899 to 1905 before rejoining Ricordi, where he established himself as Italy’s premier posterist.
For the society woman who wants to appear current (while somewhat retaining her health), Macedonia Cigarettes offers a low-nicotine option—but Dudovich lets us know that low-nicotine does not equal low-impact. To put it another way: “By breaking the bidimensionality of poster advertising, Dudovich thus turns promotional images into a multi-sensory theatre, in which products are actors, and the allusions to different sensorial realms (or arts) fashion modernity as an all-embracing experience of jouissance” (The Art of Object, p. 117). Rare!
A Chinese rice-farmer is adorned in Italian colors for this ship-travel poster to China via Shanghai. Lloyd Triestino was founded in 1836 as Österreichischer Lloyd (or “Austrian Lloyd”) and was one of the world’s biggest shipping companies; they managed most oversea trade and passenger travel from Austria-Hungary until 1918, and were one of the first to use steam ships. When Trieste became a part of Italy in 1919, the company’s name was changed to Lloyd Triestino. The company helped popularize modern cruising and tourism, and brought travelers to formerly unreachable lands.
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