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 83rd auction presents Art Deco works from the leaders of the genre: Cappiello, Cassandre, Colin, Domergue, Zig, and more.
24 1/4 x 39 3/8 in./61.6 x 100 cm
One of the finest Italian aviation posters ever produced, this bold design cuts through Furturist color planes to express the pure mass and swift movement of Italian Airlines’ fleet. This is the English-language version of the image.
24 5/8 x 39 3/8 in./62.6 x 100 cm
This handsome Art Deco design shows off the fashionable sporting life of Brides-les-Bains, a spa town in the Rhône-Alpes region of France—”the station of the elegant woman.”
31 x 47 in./78.8 x 119.5 cm
Much like Dupas’ designs for department stores, Caillaud takes a highly stylized and modeled approach—quite literally—as three fashionable muses flock around a marble sculpture. But this Parisian image, created by a French designer and printed in Paris, is advertising the Canadian department store Eaton’s, which is akin to Macy’s. It’s likely the promotion was meant for an expansion into the European market. And what an elegant attempt it is.
76 x 141 1/4 in./193.2 x 358 cm
When M. Revel founded his Lyon-based umbrella company in 1851, one could purchase his wares in both silk and cotton. While the subject matter may seem slightly ordinary, the poster is one of Cappiello’s most ingenious and delightful designs. As effective as it is simple, one sees “the umbrellas braving the storm like black ships’ sails. All the elements of fine poster design are here: bold shapes, strong contrasts (the background is a surprising sunny yellow), tight yet lively composition, unusual perspective—and no more detail than necessary” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 236). Although the company closed its doors in the 1950s, this poster remains a testament to its once brilliant advertising campaign. This is the six-sheet version of the poster.
25 x 39 1/2 in./63.5 x 100.3 cm
Air mail, it could be said, was invented after World War I by former wartime flyers looking for new lines of business. Posters helped to sell the outlandish concept to the public. “Speed is the theme of Flèche d’Argent (Silver Arrow).” Indeed: the wing of the cloud-like plane seems to tear a hole through the sky. Although at the time of this poster’s production this was one of the largest and most successful French airlines—with 131 aircraft and a network not only throughout France, but reaching Africa and South America as well—it could not withstand the pressure of the Depression. It went bankrupt in 1931 and what was left of it was amalgamated into Air France in 1933.
15 3/8 x 23 in./39 x 58.3 cm
In 1926, when John Colton’s stage play The Shanghai Gesture opened on Broadway, it created a major furor, as it was all about an establishment of shady reputation in Shanghai run by a tough expatriate hustler called Mother Goddamn. Some adjustments had to be made; the tamer version later became a movie directed by Josef von Sternberg. This poster is for the French adaptation of the play by Charles Méré. Evidently, at least some of the original raw material survived, as Colin’s design shows an innocent nude chained at the wrists—not exactly a wholesome image. Marnac (1886-1976) was a celebrated actress who performed on stage for more than half a century. This is the smaller format version.
45 5/8 x 62 1/4 in./116 x 158.2 cm
Coudon’s design for “King Kong” is impressive for a number of reasons: first, it was created for the film’s initial release in France in 1933. Second, he succinctly encapsulates all of the energy and emotions of the film: fear, awe, power, weakness, sexuality, and might, all colliding in the intense torch light below our magnificent beast. Coudon chose not to depict the film’s most famous scene atop the Empire State Building, which is another reason why this design stands out from the rest. Here, Fay Wray is being offered as a sacrifice to King Kong on Skull Island—the film’s first introduction to King Kong. Rare!
46 1/2 x 63 in./118.2 x 160 cm
Domergue made his reputation on showcasing fashionable women in provocative yet chic poses. This poster for the alluring cabaret performer (and rumored transvestite) Alice Soulié is no exception: Domergue employs a spare background to highlight the angular shapes of Alice’s lithe figure and the coquettish buoyancy of her large feather fan.
47 3/8 x 63 1/2 in./120.2 x 161.5 cm
Nicolas was—and is—one of the major wine dealers/distributors in France, and in 1922, the head of the family firm, Etienne Nicolas, asked Dransy to design a poster to show that the company delivers directly to your home. The delivery man, given the name Nectar, became one of the most popular and instantly recognizable images on the walls of France, and was used in dozens of variations. The image was the inspiration for later posters by Iribe, Loupot, and Cassandre, among others. This design, however, is based on the original image of Dransy’s, which the Poyet Frères agency supplied with the name in blue on top and a different color (yellow) for the left side bottles; hence the subscript “d’après Dransy.”
24 1/4 x 36 7/8 in./61.5 x 93.7 cm
This stylized composition with a swift messenger carrying a staff uses plenty of angles to give a feeling of urgency and speed. In this poster for the Dutch Fair at Utrecht—as well as in Hofman’s other posters—typography plays a vital role. The poster was printed with several different texts and the space at bottom was used for each year’s particulars. Hofman was a painter of landscapes, seascapes, and portraits; he designed windows, murals, and book covers too.
17 1/2 x 35 1/2 in./44.5 x 90.3 cm
This is the official poster for the first ever FIFA World Cup, held in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1930. FIFA selected the location in celebration of Uruguay’s centenary of its first constitution and their national football team’s continued winning streak at the 1928 Summer Olympics. Clearly, it was a spectacular year for the country—they went on to defeat Argentina 4-2 in the finals, making Uruguay both the first ever host and first ever winner of the World Cup. And Laborde created a fantastic Art Deco design for the event: using simple and elegant lines, he depicts a goalkeeper making a save above his playful and experimental text. This poster also features a stamp from the executive committee of the first World Cup.
13 3/4 x 21 5/8 in./35 x 52.5 cm
“‘La Grande Folie’ (The Great Folly) remained faithful to Paul Derval’s principles: a title of thirteen letters, the same number as all his other revues, lavish decors and costumes but no superstar. The poster on the other hand is surprising. The Folies rarely produced anything as ‘art deco-ish’… The image of this couple embracing, where we discover… a mixture of cubism, some of Halouze’s style and some of Colin’s, appears to be a ‘practical work’ of the 1920’s… The letters, the people, are hurled into our faces with a bluntness that is a far cry from the mannered elegance of most music hall posters” (Folies-Bergère, p. 13).
26 1/2 x 40 1/2 in./67.3 x 103 cm
This is one of the greatest, most iconic images in the history of American art. “In June 1938, the New 20th Century Limited… made its debut. To mark the occasion, Ragan created a poster that became the archetype of American streamliner designs. His rendering left locomotive driving wheels and gadgetry in shadow, instead focusing on the Century’s distinctive satin-finished crescent-shaped prow as it caught the morning sunlight while streaming alongside the Hudson River, New York City-bound” (Travel By Train, p. 124).
46 x 62 1/2 in./117 x 159 cm
Vercasson had just lost his star artist, Cappiello, and sought others who would emulate his style. Spring fit the bill for Cognac Sorin, and provided an enamored Pierrot toasting the night sky with a glass of the brandy. The odd perspective adds interest and gives the image a capricious, mysterious quality. A printed notation next to Vercasson’s name in the margin indicates “création aout 1920.”
15 5/8 x 35 1/8 in./39.7 x 89.2 cm
Mistinguett’s revue “Paris Qui Brille” was directly inspired by the unprecedented success of Josephine Baker’s “Paris Qui Remue,” which closed at the Casino de Paris a few weeks prior. Both shows focused on elaborate costumes and dance numbers. This is the smaller format.