“In the nineteenth century, Fritjof Nansen wrote that skiing washes civilization clean from our minds by dint of its exhilarating physicality. By extension, I believe that snow helps strip away the things that don’t matter. It leaves us thinking of little else but the greatness of nature, the place of our souls within it, and the dazzling whiteness that lies ahead.”
– Charlie English
25 1/4 x 35 3/4 in./64.2 x 90.8 cm
Long before Davos became home to the World Economic Forum, it was – and still continues to be – one of Switzerland’s biggest ski resorts. This splendid design, blending Art Nouveau framing with a naturalistic speed skater, will have you yearning for “the highest town in the Alps,” whether you’re a global VIP or not. This is a rare variant compared to other designs by Koch.
37 x 48 1/2 in./94 x 123.3 cm
The three men pausing before a downhill run are, in fact, posing for Kehl / PKZ’s “confections” (German for “ready-to-wear clothing”). Look closely, and Mangold’s ingenuity is fully apparent here: each figure is wearing a wildly different assortment of patterns and textures. They ought to clash. They don’t. It’s a perfect tension of lines and forms against a crushed-velvet sky.
24 5/8 x 36 3/4 in./62.5 x 93.4 cm
Shapes, reiterated – crisp, Deco, defined – move through the negative space of white in this superb artwork for the 1933 FIS-Nordic World Ski Championships in Innsbruck, Austria. That year, Sweden triumphed with 7 medals, more than three times as many as its nearest national competitor, Finland.
23 1/4 x 31 3/4 in./59.2 x 80.5 cm
This heart-lifting, beautiful expression of “frosty air and ringing blades” was created at a fascinating moment for the Nestor Johnson Ice Skate Company. A true Chicago original, Nestor Johnson reinvented the manufacture of ice skates in the 1890s and grew so wealthy that, in 1917, at the age of 50, he was about to retire. His brother had other plans – and set up his own ice-skate company as a direct competitor. A 1924 court ruling determined that Alfred could use the Johnson name in his advertising; Nestor, thenceforth, would advertise “genuine Johnsons.” This young woman, in the guise of Winged Victory, knows that with genuine Johnsons she can win the chase.
28 3/4 x 42 5/8 in./734 x 108.3 cm
Is that fear? Or excitement in her eyes? Certainly this poster is absolutely thrilling; as much as Puente del Inca, the St. Moritz of Argentina can be! “The Inca Bridge” is actually a natural arch that forms a bridge over the Vacas River in Mendoza Province, Argentina, formed by glaciers and hot springs. Charles Darwin visited here in 1835. He, however, was not a skier.
24 3/4 x 38 1/8 in./63 x 97 cm
The humble ski lift takes on a Deco perspective in this 1933 poster for good reason: these new gondola cable cars were the height of modernity at the time. Located in the Hautes-Alpes department in the southeast of France, Rochebrune is renowned as a favorite ski area. Note that the edges of this poster always bleed over and that the image is not trimmed.
35 3/4 x 50 1/8 in./90.8 x 127.2 cm
Early on in the Olympics, they put artists on the podium, too: and Diggelmann won his first medal, a Gold for Commercial Art, at the 1936 Berlin Games. (He’d win a Silver and a Bronze after the war.) A year before, in 1935, he designed this brilliant and formidable piece for “Eis-Hockey” at the Zürich ice rink. We doubt there is a single hockey fan who does not want this on his or her wall.