In the 1920s and ’30s, culture and design aesthetics changed around the world. The first World War had ended; the stock market boomed; cabaret culture and jazz music proliferated. Art Deco responded to this renewed sense of possibility and freedom by embracing experimentation, bold forms, geometry, and avant-garde typography. Our 81st auction presents Art Deco works from the leaders of the genre: Cappiello, Cassandre, Gesmar, Loupot, Vincent, and more.
31 3/4 x 47 1/8 in./80.5 x 119.7 cm
Nizzoli’s arresting Art Deco design with a phantom-like motorcycle rider emphasizes both power and comfort, as the fashionable passenger can easily put on her lipstick during the ride. Nizzoli was a most versatile artist: painter, decorator, textile designer, and posterist. Many of his posters were for automobile companies. In 1938 he joined Olivetti and was responsible for some of their finest designs in the 1940s and 1950s. He produced a monograph on the firm in 1968. FN, Fabrique Nationale, was the Belgian manufacturer of armaments as well as bikes.
18 3/4 x 27 1/2 in./47.5 x 69.7 cm
“To promote Manoli’s Dandy cigarettes—the first machine-made tipped cigarette developed in 1909—Bernhard gives us a veritable dandy, culled from centuries of aristocratic yearnings and aesthetic presentation. The Manoli dandy embraced the Parisian ideals of the 1810s, when monocles, top hats, and canes symbolized the intellectual elite. He looks out at us with an expression verging on boredom, or perhaps a nonchalant skepticism. As Baudelaire wrote in his influential “”The Painter of Modern Life,”” “”The man who is rich and idle, and who, even if blasé, has no other occupation than the perpetual pursuit of happiness… he, in short, whose solitary profession is elegance, will always and at all times possess a distinct type of physiognomy, one entirely sui generis”” (p. 26). Bernhard began working for Manoli in 1910, and created a wealth of posters for the brand, as well as their logo. With the onset of World War I, an initiative to remove foreign words from advertising forced Manoli to rename some of their brands; the Dandy then became Dalli.
30 1/4 x 41 1/2 in./76.8 x 105.3 cm
“Typically, light bulbs just don’t lend themselves to exciting graphics and so, faced with the task of attracting attention to Visseaux bulbs, Cappiello, in the grips of another fit of happy excess, gives us a beaming, if somewhat foolish juggler daring to keep eight bulbs airborne at once. How can one help but take notice?” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 172). This is the medium format. Rare!
31 1/8 x 47 1/4 in./79.2 x 120 cm
The indelible apex of Deco cool has a practical back story: with automobile production on the rise, by the 1920s the demand for safety glass was soaring. To meet this demand, Ford Motor Company teamed up with Pilkington, an English glass manufacturer, and formed Triplex in 1923. The question for Cassandre: how to advertise safety glass without actually showing it in action, amid the violence and destruction that would attend? Here’s the answer, with exceptional cleverness: glass becomes something you both look at, and look through, by giving it an angle. The driver’s strong, confident fists wrap around the steering wheel while framing the glass-pane; the steering wheel reflects the X of Triplex, solidifying the connection between brand and driver.
33 3/4 x 37 in./85.7 x 94 cm
Apart from his name, nothing is known about the designer of this sophisticatedly detached poster for Munich’s Maria Theresia Hall. He captures the fashionable ennui of the smart set with porcelain finesse. The cabaret advertises itself as “the good café” during the afternoons, and at night: dance. Little more needs to be said, as the Jazz era coolness of these evening affairs is made visually evident: flapper fashion, discreet libations, lively music, and a partner on the dance floor—what more could you ask for?
46 1/8 x 63 in./117 x 160 cm
This wry image of Mistinguett plays on her legendary performance style involving luxurious flirtation with the viewer. It’s also a testament to the seamless collaboration between the showgirl and her costume-designer artist, the young prodigy Charles Gesmar, who designed thousands of costumes and 55 posters for her. Note the identical hue of coral upon wrist-bauble, nails, and lips; the lapis lazuli upon her finger, and in her eye shadow; the emerald upon her ring finger, and in her eyes; the black pearls and Mistinguett’s mascara. Peek-a-boo, the colors say: I see you.
38 3/4 x 52 3/8 in./98.5 x 133 cm
Krotowski keeps extraneous information at bay to allow us to admire the striking form of a stylish gent walking his equally elegant hound. Along with Hohlwein and Fries, Krotowski’s sophisticated designs dominated the early days of PKZ’s advertising. Even 100 years later, we can imagine this design promoting contemporary menswear with great panache.
31 1/2 x 47 1/4 in./80 x 120 cm
Loupot’s image for safety glass and Cassandre’s Triplex (see No. 227) were executed the same year—shortly after the beginning of their association in Alliance Graphique. Both use a pane of glass, but in characteristically different ways. Cassandre’s image, rendered in sober black and brown, focuses on the threat to the driver’s eyes. Loupot’s design has nothing of this stark quality. Indeed, the glass here shatters, but the shower of the fragments resembles a joyous snowfall; the person behind it comes through smiling, and the colors offer a sense of safety and well-being. It’s not precisely what you’d expect, but it is a most effective—and entertaining—vision of precisely what non-cutting broken glass might look like.
29 3/4 x 42 in./75.5 x 106.7 cm
The Paris-Lyon-Mediterranée railway advertises the plush Pullman accommodations on its north-south route with an elegant couple and furnishings in matching rich blue. Although the rural countryside speeds by the window, inside the cabin is nothing short of cosmopolitan luxury.
46 5/8 x 62 1/4 in./118.4 x 158.2 cm
Cappiello’s triple-chapeaux tableau may be the more famous (see PAI-LXXIX, 275), but Olsky’s dramatic Deco image for Mossant may be the more handsome design. Combining elements of the Object Poster with mysterious, seductive graphics, the product pops off the page while the background figure lures us in with desire. It’s an intriguing visual tease.
24 1/2 x 39 in./62 x 99.7 cm
Rasmussen took over the graphics of the Danish State Railway in 1937 with two breakthrough works: “the classic light rail poster and the picture of the Storstrømsbroen bridge [see next lot], shown in modern monumentality and flattering moonlight. With technical bravado and high quality requirements in the work process, Rasmussen evoked the fine-tuned nuances that enrich the mood values in the light rail poster. The metaphorical and suggestive power of the image has its energy in particular in the strong effects of chiaroscuro in deep space and in the linear perspective play on the time factor in the typhoon’s propulsion. Like a glowing mirage in the night blue sky, the arrow of speed stands at top speed, but the fascination of speed and the glorification of technology is full of excitement with an undercurrent of the demonic” (Danish Posters, p. 227).
12 3/4 x 17 in./32.5 x 43.2 cm
Vincent was best known for his fashion illustrations; they portrayed the sophisticated people between the wars with a very special flamboyance, insight, and sympathetic treatment that resulted from his own high society status. In posters, this was mainly evidenced in the large body of work he did for the Bon Marché department store. As for his illustrations, these are best seen in the covers of La Vie Parisienne, like this naughty-and-nice depiction of a chic flapper girl telling the angels at her bedside, “You know, my little ones, he will be here tonight. He has an 8-day pass.” This is the complete issue showing the original artwork as the cover of the February 16, 1918 edition.
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