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Swiss & German Posters
55 images tracing Jugendstil to Sachplakat.

Influenced by French Art Nouveau, German and Swiss artists developed a similarly decorative aesthetic known as Jugendstil. Sinuous curves and floral elements dominated, and the typography was often interwoven into the image. At the dawn of the 20th century, ornament was discarded in favor of simplicity and efficiency. In Berlin, Lucian Bernhard developed the Sachplakat style, which focused on the essence of the image—any extraneous decorative elements were considered unnecessary to the design. Today, late 19th- and early 20th century posters from Germany and Switzerland retain a particular look that is inextricably tied to the culture, politics, and advances in design of these particular countries.

151. J. Petitjean Basel. 1925.
By Niklaus Stoecklin (1896-1982)
36 x 50 in./91.8 x 127 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000

Stoecklin’s design for an automotive tire is a quintessential example of Neue Sachlichkeit, or New Objectivity. There is absolutely nothing extraneous, except for Stoecklin’s impressive photographic precision: each joint, angle, and texture of the tire is meticulously rendered with disciplined accuracy. After all, our attention should be focused on the engineering feat of J. Petitjean, and that is precisely what Stoecklin delivers.

215. Candee. 1929.
By Eduardo Garcia Benito (1891-1981)
35 1/2 x 50 5/8 in./90.2 x 128.5 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000

This image is from the high point of the ‘20s, just before “The Crash”—perhaps the rain beginning to cascade from the sky is the artist’s premonition. At any rate, it reminds us of bad weather ahead and the need for Candée snow boots. Unlike in olden days—only a decade before—when a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, the boots now complimented a more modern wardrobe. And they do, thanks to the great fashion illustrator Benito. His cool background colors make certain that the red boots stand out, and his high 1920s style evokes glamorous New Yorker as she hustles down the street. This is the German-language version.

216. Manoli. 1910.
By Lucian Bernhard (1883-1972)
37 x 26 3/8 in./94 x 67 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000

During the 1910s and ’20s, Bernhard executed at least a dozen designs for Manoli, a Berlin-based cigarette factory founded in 1894 by Jakob Mandelbaum. This one is a quintessential example of Bernhard’s characteristic Sachplakat aesthetic, in which the image is diluted down to its most vital essences: the brand name and the product sit against a deep black background. But rather than coming off as stark, the image is coyly enticing: a chic flip-top deck presents its pleasures while a single cigarette teeters off the edge, beckoning the nicotine lover to indulge.

229. Frühling in der Schweiz. 1945.
By Donald Brun (1909-1999)
25 x 39 5/8 in./63.4 x 100.7 cm
Est: $800-$1,000

Perhaps the most adorable and exuberant design ever created to promote Swiss tourism, this merry poster makes the country appear to be bursting with cuteness. This is the German language variant.

310. Maria Theresia-Diele. ca. 1925.
By Rudolf Eberle
33 3/4 x 37 in./85.7 x 94 cm
Est: $3,000-$3,500

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?

316. Gitta Entdeckt Ihr Herz. 1932.
By Josef Fenneker (1895-1956)
37 5/8 x 56 in./95.8 x 142.6 cm
Est: $3,000-$4,000

This poster shows a sharp departure from Fenneker’s haunting and expressionistic designs of the 1910s and 1920s. This could be due to the growing conservatism of both Berlin and the film industry; in 1920, Germany passed a cinema censorship law and each poster had to be approved by the censor’s office. Nevertheless, it’s a lovely image highlighting a blonde muse in a bright floral gown against a metallic silver background that makes the whole scene shimmer. As for the plot of the movie itself, “Gitta the shy adolescent becomes the celebrated star of a revue. One day Gitta reveals her heart to the young composer Peter. He looks great, but he is not successful. But Gita has an idea… A new star is born—and new happiness” (Fenneker, p. 91).

339. A. Gasser Architekt.
By Johannes Handschin (1899-1948)
35 5/8 x 50 1/2 in./90.5 x 128.4 cm
Est: $3,000-$4,000

Two architectural statements do all the talking in this design: an Art Deco spire with an increasingly warming glow and a Bauhaus-style structure beside it. This graphic tour de force advertises the Basel-based architect, A. Gasser. In addition to being able to create the perfect edifice to suit any client’s needs, he also served as a real estate agent with properties available for purchase or rental. Little is known about Handschin other than that he was a painter and graphic artist active in Basel. Rare!

351. Yellowstone-Park. 1910.
By Ludwig Hohlwein (1874-1949)
49 x 36 in./124 x 91.4 cm
Est: $6,000-$7,000

Hohlwein’s fame reached beyond his homeland in a short time—here, only three years after the magnificent Hermann Scherrer posters, he was asked to create this design for an unspecified U.S. client. From all appearances, it’s basically an institutional promotion more than a specific invitation to visit the place—note there are no details as to where it’s located or how to get there. But there’s no question that the rather overcrowded yellow stagecoach pulled by a team of six brown horses makes for a delightful image.

352. Zoologischer Garten München. 1912.
By Ludwig Hohlwein (1874-1949)
34 1/4 x 48 1/8 in./87 x 122.5 cm
Est: $10,000-$12,000

During the most productive period of Hohlwein’s career—his years in Munich—he made posters for many city institutions, including several for the zoo. This broadly blocked image of a leopard and a panther shows the artist’s powers of abstraction and reaffirms his celebrity as an animal painter. Rare!

370. Weidenhof Casino. 1913.
By Ernst Lübbert (1879-1916)
36 1/2 x 27 3/8 in./92.8 x 69.5 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

The large undifferentiated black area of the shoulders and hats of the lady and gentlemen makes an effective framing device for this glimpse of a Berlin nightclub as it may have appeared in the days just prior to the outbreak of World War I. A painter, illustrator, and commercial artist, Lübbert studied at the Berlin Academy of Arts and performed the majority of his work in Berlin for the Ernst Marx publishing house. As well as contributing illustrations to humor magazines such as Berliner Illustrierte, Deutsche Illustrierte, and Ulk (which translates literally as “Fun”), he executed a number of designs for the Cardinal cigarette manufacturers, including a series of poster stamps.

447. Idene. ca. 1940.
By Viktor Rutz (1913-2008)
35 1/2 x 50 1/4 in./90.2 x 127.8 cm
Est: $1,400-$1,700

For this Swiss hosiery company, Rutz gives us a vividly saturated siren who emerges from the shadows to slip on her sandals. The colors are fantastically vibrant, creating a visual effect akin to neon. After finishing school in Zurich, Rutz apprenticed as a fashion and department store catalogue illustrator. By 1945, he had created around 200 posters and received numerous awards both at home and abroad. In 1960 he moved to Montreux where he painted and created murals.

448. Söhnlein Rheingold. ca. 1914.
By Fritz C. Rumpf (Friedrich Carl Georg, 1888-1949)
33 1/2 x 22 1/2 in./85 x 57.2 cm
Est: $2,500-$3,000

Still in production today, Söhnlein Rheingold is a German sparkling wine producer based in Wiesbaden. Founded in 1864, it took the name Rheingold from Richard Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle, emphasizing the company’s German heritage while also giving it a flair of the fanciful. Under Kaiser Wilhelm I, it became the official champagne with which to christen new warships in the country. Here, Rumpf shows an elegantly dressed lady sipping on the delicate beverage in a perfectly evocative German Deco style.

477. Kleine Dada Soirée. 1922.
By Theo Van Doesburg (Christian Kuepper, 1883-1931) & Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)
11 3/4 x 11 3/4 in./30 x 30 cm
Est: $6,000-$8,000

Kurt Schwitters and Theo van Doesburg “embarked on a tour of Holland to introduce Dada to the local artists and the public through lectures and performances. Van Doesburg’s pamphlet ‘Wat is Dada?’ was for sale at the close of each stop. The poster for the Small Dada Evening includes the event program, which lists ragtime music by the composer Erik Satie, abstract poetry by Schwitters, and ‘Dadasofie’ by Doesburg. The poster is decorated with multi-lingual slogans including: ‘Dada est contre le futur, Dada est mort, Dada est idiot, vive Dada!’ (‘Dada is against the future, Dada is dead, Dada is idiotic, Long live Dada!’)” (MoMA exhibition wall plaque).

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