Modern and Contemporary Posters
Over 80 posters from mid- to late-20th century.

Pablo Picasso. Marc Chagall. Milton Glaser. Keith Haring. These prolific artists (and many more!) designed experimental, conceptual, and invigorating posters for exhibitions, events, and creative endeavors. Experience the evolution of the poster with these modern and contemporary designs.

229. Die Zauberflote / Metropolitan Opera. 1966.
Artist: Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
25 3/4 x 39 3/4 in./65.5 x 101 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000

Marc Chagall’s rapturous poster for the Met’s 1967 production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” is the final note on Chagall’s top-to-tail visual rendering, having created the sets and the costumes as well. The poster borrows a detail from “The Triumph of Music,” one of two large murals that flank the entrance to Lincoln Center. A native of Vitebsk, Russia, Chagall arrived in Paris in 1910 and soon made a name for himself in art circles with his surreal and poetic dream-visions. The “welter of color” Chagall splashed onto the Met’s stages received mixed reviews, but his visual interpretation of Mozart’s final, joyous opera influenced the Met’s stagings through the 1981-82 season.

294. Carnegie Hall. 1981.
Artist: Milton Glaser (1929- )
27 3/8 x 33 3/4 in./56.8 x 85.7 cm
Est: $800-$1,000

As Glaser notes, “The anniversary poster for Carnegie Hall shows a cascade of bouquets to indicate the passage of thousands of concerts that have been performed over a ninety-year period” (Glaser Posters, p. 274). To add to the meaning of this work, it is hand-signed by the famed violinist and conductor, Isaac Stern, who spearheaded the campaign that saved the New York landmark from being destroyed in 1960.

299. Behaglich Reisen. ca. 1953.
Artist: Heinz Grave-Schmandt (1920-1993)
23 1/2 x 33 in./59.7 x 83.8 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200

This serene advertisement for the German Railway promises comfortable travel—and based on this image, how could it be any other way? The locomotive’s steam gives way to the most contentedly snoozing kitten, who hovers on its pillow-cloud atop a remarkably calming sea of blue. This pared-back image from Grave-Schmandt proves the power of simplicity in advertising.

314. Knokke Casino 87. 1987.
Artist: Keith Haring (1958-1990)
20 3/8 x 28 1/4 in./52 x 71.7 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000

To promote his exhibition at the Knokke Casino—a sea-front venue in Flanders that is also the country’s largest casino—Haring designed a typically playful image of a Haring-figure riding a dolphin (which apparently has managed to evolve to walk on land). The venue not only has permanent Haring works on view, but is also home to work by Paul Delvaux and a giant 360° mural by the surrealist master René Magritte. It seems that Haring’s work is in good company.

322. Che de América. ca. 1970.
Artist: Jorge Hernandez
16 3/4 x 25 3/4 in./42.7 x 65.3 cm
Est: $800-$1,000

Hernandez was clearly inspired by the famous Alberto Korda photograph that has been called “a symbol of the twentieth century” and “the world’s most famous photo.” The portrait of Che Guevara (1928-1967) known as “Guerrillero Heroico,” or “Heroic Guerrilla,” was captured on March 5, 1960, at a memorial service for victims of the La Coubre explosion in Havana, Cuba. Guevara was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, politician, author, physician, military theorist, and guerrilla leader. After his death, his portrait became a ubiquitous countercultural symbol worldwide—he was perceived by many to be a martyr, and leftist followers adopted his ideology and desire to create a consciousness driven by moral rather than material incentives. In Hernandez’s treatment, the iconic portrait is rendered almost as a silhouette—the image so recognizable that details are no longer necessary—and bright stars consume the scene. It’s a powerful image rife with energy, and a testament to the lasting impact of Korda’s portrait.

333. 1er Campeonato Mundial Football / Uruguay. 1930.
Artist: Guillermo Laborde (1886-1940)
17 1/2 x 35 1/4 in./44.5 x 89.7 cm
Est: $2,500-$3,000

This is the official poster for the first ever FIFA World Cup, held in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1930. FIFA selected the location in celebration of Uruguay’s centenary of its first constitution—and their national football team’s continued winning streak at the 1928 Summer Olympics. Clearly, it was a spectacular year for the country—they went on to defeat Argentina 4-2 in the finals, making Uruguay both the first ever host and first ever winner of the World Cup. And Laborde created a fantastic Art Deco design for the event: using simple and elegant lines, he depicts a goalkeeper making a save above his playful and experimental text. This poster also features a stamp from the executive committee of the first World Cup. Rare!

351. Oostende-Dover. ca. 1931.
Artist: Leo Marfurt (1894-1977)
29 1/2 x 41 1/4 in./75 x 105 cm
Est: $8,000-$10,000

A particularly colorful Art Deco design, this poster advertises the three hour passage from Ostend in Belgium to Dover in England. Once docked, convenient train service would take you the rest of the way to your destination of choice. It is interesting to compare this design with any of Cassiers’ for the same service (see PAI-LIX, 218). This particular printing bears a stamp of the Belgian-Luxembourg tourism bureau dated Oct. 1, 1931.

419. 60 Years of Graphic Works. 1966.
Artist: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
21 3/4 x 29 3/4 in./55.3 x 75.7 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000

Picasso announces his LACMA exhibition of 60 years of work with a playful design—a Cubist-style clown, flanked by the artist’s childlike handwriting. This charming image was a trial proof before printing the final poster, and is one of 100 copies.

Artist: Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008)
Each: 19 5/8 x 27 1/2 in./49.8 x 69.7 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200

Yves Saint Laurent designed couture not just for the runway—he was also deeply involved in costuming and stage design for film and theatre. In 1974, he held an exhibition of his costume and stage set sketches at the Proscenium Gallery, which showcased only works related to the world of theatre. Here, his exotic Middle Eastern model promotes the show both as a proof and as a final poster. (2)

439. You Get Surprise Out of Life. 1955.
Artist: Raymond Savignac (1907-2002)
44 3/8 x 28 in./112.6 x 71 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

In 1955, Savignac formed a strong relationship with Life magazine, creating at least thirteen published images for the company and countless potential designs, all commissioned for the magazine by its agency, Young & Rubicam. These two extremely rare works (see no. 438) are the only ones in which the image is incorporated in a stylized billboard setting.

476. Faites de la Musique. 1986.
Artist: Tomi Ungerer (1931-2019)
15 1/4 x 23 3/8 in./38.7 x 59.3 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200

Ungerer embraces the joy of music—quite literally—in this endearing design for the Fête de la Musique, or World Music Day, in 1986. The festival was first organized on the day of the summer solstice in 1982 in Paris, and it continues to be celebrated on the same day each year in more than 700 cities around the world.

481. Bally. 1988.
Artist: Bernard Villemot (1911-1989)
47 3/8 x 68 5/8 in./120.5 x 174.2 cm
Est: $1,400-$1,700

Villemot created many posters and advertising images for Bally, all of which are bold, charming, and winsomely designed. Here, our leggy model bounces the world off of her Bally pump, while her shadow gives a hint of the store’s men’s offerings.

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