With over 100 magnificent examples of vintage travel posters on offer, you’re nearly certain to find one that’s reminiscent of your most perfect holiday – or stimulate the imagination for one. There are some incredible finds – like Intourist posters promoting travel to Russia during the Stalin and Khrushchev years! – as well as sublime Art Deco work by Broders and Welsh, classic ’30s-’50s visions of Sun Valley, Idaho, plus Capri, Lugano, Israel, South Africa, Niagara Falls, Algeria – hardly a place on Earth untouched. Here are a handful to whet your appetite.
30 x 40 in./76.2 x 101.5 cm
An aviation poster of perfect simplicity, economy, and elegance. Kauffer abandons the clichés of the Golden Gate, and concentrates on an abstracted pylon of the Oakland Bay Bridge, which doubles as the tail-fin of an airplane. Using just three colors – sun-yellow, sky-blue and fog-grey – Kauffer communicates the sensations of both getting to, and being in San Francisco. A true treasure of modern graphic design.
24 1/4 x 39 1/2 in./61.5 x 100.3 cm
One of Intourist’s most famous posters, this gorgeous image, poised halfway between Modernism and Soviet Socialist Realism, presumably is promoting a destination in Crimea. This lithograph doesn’t contain the (English-language!) words found on other copies, “USSR Health Resorts.” Stalin founded Intourist in 1929 as the nation’s official travel agency, with a mission to attract foreign tourists to the USSR.
20 3/4 x 27 in./52.6 x 68 cm
The famous Pullman Company built elegant sleeper cars for American railroads and put virtually the entire nation just a night’s rest away from travelers’ destinations. Pullman’s VP, James Kelly, had long been fascinated by European travel posters, and commissioned Chicago artist William P. Welsh for a dozen poster designs, intending to promote Pullman’s safety record and comfort. “Welsh had studied at the Academie Julien in Paris and had made a name for himself painting the mural decorations of the Chicago Room of that city’s famed Palmer House… As Pullman operated only a handful of streamlined cars, Welsh chose instead to feature its patrons: stylish women whom he posed in serene outdoor settings. He bathed his subjects in brilliant color and rendered their surroundings in Art-Deco designed patterns… Welsh’s campaign won widespread public recognition and several design awards” (Travel by Train, p. 109). They remain some of the most brilliant evocations of 1930s Art Deco created in America.
24 x 38 in./61 x 96.6 cm
A stunning photograph from a Tunisian beach delivers a time capsule from the 1950s, in which a bikini sunbather shares the sand with women in traditional Muslim dress. Tunisia declared independence from France in 1956, but for the remainder of the decade, the leadership of Prime Minister Habib Bourguiba sustained a vision of Tunisia as secular, populist and imbued with French rationalism and élan. Note: credit for the “plage de Tunisie” photo is given to Photo Studio Africa.
24 3/4 x 39 1/8 in./62.7 x 99.2 cm
The rarest of all Broders posters, it’s also the only image Broders created for the Chemin de Fer du Nord – though the railroad is nowhere to be seen. Instead, he gives us the view from an elegant couple’s yacht, pulling out of the harbor. The contrast between the modern (both people and ships) and the medieval (the spire of the Old Town Hall, the little skiff at right) makes Dunkirk all the more interesting and mysterious.
25 3/4 x 40 in./65.2 x 101.5 cm
If you’re lucky, you get days like this: the warm light of Spring, the soft cool air billowing about, the fragrant blossoms upon the breeze; and a beautiful woman, in perfect relaxation and abandon. Boccasile lost his left eye while young but achieved fame for his many images of the feminine form.