Unusual Discoveries
A selection of the marvelous, unusual and downright strange items in our October 28 auction.

Some things are sui generis.

Vanah Yami.
Artist: Pierre Segogne (?-1958)
45x 60 in./114.4 x 153 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000.

An exquisite promotional poster for the 1920s-’30s French dancer and actress Vanah Yami, with her in a heartbreakingly beautiful Siamese costume and pose. Yami’s beauty, poise and exoticism captivated the sculptor Pierre Octave Vigoureux, who created several sculptures of her in poses from Thai and Indian traditional dances. She later appeared in the films “Je serai seule après minuit” (1931), “Gitanes” (1932), and “The Last Blow” (1932).

Cannes. 1926.
Artist: Anonymous
30 5/8 x 40 1/8 in./77.7 x 102 cm
Est: $1,400-$1,700.

An absolutely outstanding, and highly unusual for this time period, post-impressionist seascape of Cannes from the foothills above the city – with the primacy of paint rendered virtually tactile, even in lithograph form. Pastour studied at the École des Arts-Déco in Paris, then returned to Cannes where he founded the city’s first fine arts association in 1902, and earned the nickname “lou pintre dou soulèu (“painter of the sun” in the local Provençal dialect). His canvases are highly prized today.

277. Cocaine. 1926.
Artist: René Gaillard
45 5/8 x 62 in./116 x 157.5 cm
Est: $7,000-$9,000.

Although still legal in France throughout the 1920s, cocaine had begun to be associated with vice starting in the late Victorian era. While little is known about this five-act play, one can surmise from the green devil perched upon the hill of Montmartre and the skeletal woman in the foreground that this show deals with the seedy underbelly of Parisian society. This is the larger format version of the poster.

455. Blackglama / Judy Garland. 1985.
Artist: Andy Warhol (1930-1987)
37 7/8 x 37 7/8 in./96.3 x 96.3 cm
Est: $30,000-$35,000.

Provenance: Martin Lawrence Galleries. This signed, silk-screen print was part of a portfolio of ten 1985 screenprints, in an edition of 190 copies, published by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, N.Y. Andy’s silkscreen transforms the famous 1968 Richard Avedon advertising series, “What Becomes a Legend Most?” This Judy Garland print is the most famous and celebrated of the entire series, and is the featured image on Blackglama’s own website commemorating the legendary advertising campaign.

Are You Ready for Foods? 1989.
Artist: Tadanori Yokoo (1936- )
28 5/8 x 40 1/2 in./72.2 x 103 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200.

Tadanori Yokoo is Japan’s most famous contemporary poster artist. His psychedelic visions vibrate with moods, rather than messages – the moods of Shinjuku neon, pachinko clinks and subconscious desires deep in the historic memory of Japan. This piece blends elements of mirror-imaging, but without perfect symmetry, to ask the wonderfully creepy question in English, “Are you ready for foods?” One of the great modern works of advertising art, it preconditions the mind to stimulate the desire. In just the slightest of hints, there’s a Toyko telephone number, and open hours 11:30am – 10:45pm at the bottom, in the tiniest, most insignificant lettering, for an underground-exclusive feel.

316. Aufgalopp in München. ca. 1935.
Artist: Richard Klein (1890-1967)
33 1/2 x 47 1/8 in./85 x 119.5 cm
Est: $1,400-$1,700.

A joyful, alabaster nude rides sidesaddle upon a white stallion in a masterpiece of verve, coloration and festivity. It’s on behalf of Munich’s Faschingsfest (the Germanic equivalent of pre-Lenten celebrations).

252. Paul Hankar Architecte. 1894.
Artist: Adolphe Crespin (1859-1944)
15 3/8 in. x 21 in./39 x 53.2 cm
Est: $7,000-$9,000.

We virtually never see posters for professional services – but this advertisement for Paul Hankar, one of Belgium’s best Art Nouveau architects, is really something special. That’s because Adolphe Crespin frequently worked the interior design for Hankar’s exteriors. In this perfectly proportioned work, symbolic forms – from compasses to honeycombs, rulers and protractors – surround the architect as an expression of his own mind. “The warm and vivid coloring further adds, if that’s possible, to the merit of this print which remains one of the best – if not the very best – of Crespin” (Beaumont, p. 48).

295. Tony Shafrazi Gallery. 1983.
295. Tony Shafrazi Gallery. 1983.
Artist: Keith Haring (1958-1990)
23 1/8 x 35 in./58.6 x 89 cm
Est: $1,400-$1,700.

Bridging the gap between the art world and the street, Keith Haring rose to prominence in the early 1980s with his graffiti drawings made in the subways and on the sidewalks of New York City. Alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, and Jenny Holzer, Haring was a leading figure in New York East Village art scene of the 1970s and ’80s. Here’s a poster for an exhibition of his own work, titled “Into 84,” hosted at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery. Shafrazi himself is a legendary figure – the art advisor for the Shah of Iran, then becoming a major art gallerist in New York during the ’80s, in exile after the Shah was deposed.

132. Maison du Roi. ca. 1780.
132. Maison du Roi. ca. 1780.
Artist: Anonymous
19 1/2 x 26 in./49.4 x 66 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500.

This astounding piece of history is a recruitment poster calling soldiers to apply for the French Guard, presumably during the reign of Louis XVI. In pre-Revolutionary France, the Gardes Françaises were specifically organized for the personal protection of the monarch. Between 1685 and 1789, the regiment wore exactly the uniform you see here – dark “king’s blue” coats, with red collars, cuffs and waistcoats, white breeches and leggings; grenadiers were identified through their high fur hats as seen here. During the Revolution, most of the Gardes Françaises defected to the Revolutionary cause. They led the storming of the Bastille, and ensured the collapse of absolute monarchy in France. The text has been created using hand-colored woodblock lettering.

13. The Fak Hongs/Numero d'Illusion. ca. 1901.
13. The Fak Hongs/Numero d'Illusion. ca. 1901.
Artist: Anonymous
49 1/2 x 72 7/8 in./125.8 x 185.2 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500.

One of the earliest posters for this team of Asian illusionists. It casts its advertising magic courtesy of a 2-sheet split image, each half-illustrating several of the performed tricks by the Fak Hongs, with continuity provided by the smoldering fumes emanating from the cauldron at bottom. And what an array of mystical – and frequently disembodied – deceptions the audience must have been in for, not to mention the fact that the performers are surrounded by practically every imaginable associative cliché from the world of the black arts – the Grim Reaper, dragons, devils, skulls, serpents and exotic birds, just for a pinch of Far Eastern flair.

330. L'Impartial : Maquette. ca. 1917.
330. L'Impartial : Maquette. ca. 1917.
Artist: Charles Loupot (1892-1962)
10 7/8 x 15 3/8 in./27.5 x 39 cm
Est: $10,000-$12,000.

A vividly colored, magnificently detailed maquette for a poster on behalf of L’Impartial, a Swiss daily newspaper founded in Neuchâtel in 1881. It’s startlingly Deco-designed for such an early stage of Loupot’s career – and even evinces the theatrical fashion sense more often seen in Schnackenberg costume designs than in Swiss department stores at the time. It’s clear that even around 1917, when Loupot was rendering very traditional designs for his first clients, he was then reaching for the avant-garde. For another, more literal-minded Loupot design for this newspaper, see PAI-XIV, 320.

413. Schnackenberg: Kostume/Plakate und Dekorationen, by Oskar Bie. 1922.
413. Schnackenberg: Kostume/Plakate und Dekorationen, by Oskar Bie. 1922.
Artist: Walter Schnackenberg (1880-1961)
Art Book (image is cover) 10 1/4 x 13 1/4 in./26 x 33.6 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000.

This is the only known book to date that focuses exclusively on the works of the great German artist, displaying the spectacular sweep of his lithographic and decorative mastery, as well as his costume designs, in forty-three full-page illustrations. This is the second edition of this volume in a custom slipcase.

137. Huntley & Palmers Biscuits.
137. Huntley & Palmers Biscuits.
Artist: Anonymous
29 1/2 x 20 3/4 in./75 x 52.7 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200.

A scene as distant from Proper London as you can get: sherpas escorting pack-yaks through the mountains of Tibet, bearing loads of Huntley & Palmers biscuits. This isn’t a fiction: the company was famed for being able to send their biscuits virtually anywhere in the world – including the mountains of Tibet – and the brand came to symbolize the reach of the British Empire, while winning Grand Prizes at both the 1878 and 1900 Paris World’s Fairs, as the stamp at bottom left attests. In 2017, an intact Huntley & Palmers fruitcake (and presumably edible, as much as can be said) was found among artifacts left during Captain Scott’s 1910 South Pole Expedition. After being acquired by Nabisco in 1982 and left to wither, the brand was reconstituted in 2006.

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