I was looking for some action, but all I found was cigarettes and alcohol.
– Noel Gallagher, Oasis
Whatever gets you through the night.
– Frank Sinatra
37 1/4 x 28 in./94.6 x 71 cm
Julius Klinger was one of the most gifted graphic artists of his generation. Born in Vienna, he relocated to Berlin and began a career as both a conceptual thinker and designer. He wrote extensively on the philosophy of advertising and created an altogether new design language during the 1920s. He was persecuted, deported and killed by the Nazis in 1942. This catches him at the very beginning of his career, as an illustrator with phenomenally precise lines and graphic-novel-type touches. It’s a beautiful moment: the erudite gentleman, dressed to the nines, encounters someone’s neglected cigarette in an ashtray, still lit, the column of smoke rising in temptation. He looks over: it might be rude, he appears to be saying; but why let a good thing go to waste?
13 3/4 x 18 5/8 in./35 x 47.3 cm
Fortunato Depero was a major figure in the Italian Futurist movement, and a superb non-commercial artist within that aesthetic. (His work was included in the Guggenheim’s seminal 2014 survey of Italian Futurism.) In 1919 he founded the House of Futurist Art, where he began to translate the artistic precepts of Futurism into household objects like toys, tapestries, and furniture. From 1928 to 1932 Depero was in New York City, creating stage costumes, designing restaurants, homes and covers for magazines. This opened his consideration of commercial design, and upon his return to Italy, he created many brilliant posters, three-dimensional objects for in-store advertising (see PAI-LXXI, 280), as well as a 1932 bottle design for Campari soda that’s still in production. This brilliant poster for Bitter Campari is a classic, archetypal work of his: bright, stark, angularly energetic and seeking to thrill.
30 3/4 x 46 1/8 in./35 x 117.2 cm
An alluring Asian genie comes twisting out of a bottle, which is really a hookah, holding aloft a cigarette in hand, communicating that a Saphir is just as strong, flavorful and sensuous experience as the traditionally exotic way of getting your smoke on.
15 3/8 x 22 1/2 in./39 x 57 cm
Following the (erroneously-named) 1906 absinthe murders, in which French-Swiss laborer Jean Lanfray killed his family in a drunken frenzy, Switzerland moved quickly to ban the hallucinatory wormwood tipple known as the Green Fairy. Popularly approved in 1908, the Swiss absinthe ban was not universally appreciated, as this poster makes clear. With a macabre visage and equally morbid attire, a personification of Swiss piety declares: this is the hour! In 1910, the 1908 referendum was written into the Swiss constitution. Here is the outrage, astonishment and unfairness some felt about suppression of the “Green Fairy”: she lies beautiful, sexy, and dead, a cross-hilted dagger plunged into her ribs, by a man looking every bit as much vampire as vampire-hunter. At left, 1291 marks the date of Swiss confederation; at left, the year 1910 has the white-haired mother country defeated and dejected.