It’s easy to take automobiles and aviation for granted today; they’ve become a part of the fabric of life. But when they were first developed, they opened up the floodgates not only for travel, but for curiosity, possibility, and a newfound feeling of unencumbered freedom. These designs trace that history, beginning with the earliest air meets and automotive models up to modern-day escapades.
23 3/8 x 35 1/4 in./60 x 89.6 cm
“As an important commercial, industrial, financial and publishing center whose annual fairs achieved world renown, Frankfurt am Main was a logical site for Germany’s first aeronautical exposition. The show was held at a time when the novelty of flying had seized the imagination of the public and aroused much interest in the possibilities of future travel by air. Orville Wright, in the summer of 1909, had come to Berlin under the auspices of the Berliner Lokal Anzeiger to demonstrate his biplane before Kaiser Wilhelm II and to give Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm a ride. The Crown Prince was the first member of the Royal Family to fly. That same year, Hans Grade, a pioneer of flight who had succeeded in making a hop on a triplane in 1908, gave a historic first to Germany by carrying the world’s earliest recorded piece of airmail… Pictured in the poster is Frankfurt’s red sandstone Dom, or cathedral… In the foreground is a Voisin biplane, probably reflecting the impression Frenchman Armand Zipfel made in this type craft… the twenty-six-year-old aviator was acclaimed as the first to ascend in an aeroplane in Germany. The air-ship betokens a German obsession with Zeppelins” (Looping the Loop, p. 37). Rare!
23 1/2 x 35 7/8 in./59.8 x 91.2 cm
Although the lush German landscape is the visual focus of this design, it is the flying object in the corner that is the subject: the passenger zeppelin named “Deutschland.” A separate tip-on tells us that, due to the likely high demand, it is advisable to reserve seats in advance as soon as possible. An address is provided for the Hamburg-Amerika Line’s office in Düsseldorf for registration, tickets, and details. The “Deutschland” was the first passenger ship of the Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-Aktiengesellschaft, otherwise known as Delag (or the German Airship Travel Corporation). It first flew in June, 1910, and was capable of accommodating 24 passengers. Unfortunately, less than two weeks later, the zeppelin was destroyed in a thunderstorm, though all passengers on board survived. Rare!
30 1/4 x 42 1/4 in./77 x 107.5 cm
From a bird’s eye view above the cockpit of an early monoplane resembling a Blériot, we share in the pilot’s vertiginous, breathtaking vista of Nice and the Gold Coast as he scatters a bouquet of roses to the town at his feet. Brossé, a graphic chronicler of the city of Nice, not only provided us with a magnificent poster for the 1910 air show, but was also one of the event’s key organizers.
36 x 49 1/8 in./91.4 x 124.7 cm
A Farman-type biplane soars above Bavarian cupolas in Hohlwein’s perfectly balanced composition. Hohlwein is one of Germany’s best-known poster artists, and this is a classic of his characteristic early style, which broke from the traditions of Art Nouveau to champion flat shapes—albeit they’re imbued with strange, painterly patterns to deliver an intensity within each object. The Otto Flying Machine Works was the largest aircraft manufacturer in southern Germany, and later merged to form BMW.
39 x 24 3/4 in./99 x 62.7 cm
“Lucien Boucher became the ‘Mr. Planisphere’ of Air France, making a large number of them between 1934 and 1962. Until this point, posters sold either a destination (Africa, the Orient, Europe) or a product (the Air France company). They then became works of art that, incidentally, showed that the French network covered the world. They had planes and shrimp in them, the sky was there by default (the definition of a planisphere is that we see the earth from above, from the sky) and the continents were now illustrated by monuments, genre scenes or emblematic animals… Sometimes these [Air France] networks were drawn on a celestial chart with constellations replacing the continents. Until then master of the skies, the airplane (Air France’s of course) had metaphorically become master of the world, even the universe… If we stand back and look at a distance at this network drawn on the celestial chart, we have the strange impression of seeing the world projected onto the sky… The result is astonishing, this magnificent representation of the signs of the Zodiac becoming a mirror in which the earth suggested by the Air France routes is reflected” (Air France/Dream, p. 91). Rare!
27 1/2 x 42 in./70 x 106.7 cm
In 1939, Pan Am began to offer flights to Europe via Bermuda—but after the war, England was reluctant to host American flights to their territories, at least not until the British had their own planes to travel there first. In 1945, the American and British governments met in Bermuda for negotiations, resulting in the Bermuda Agreement, which set the precedent for about 3,000 other international agreements regarding air travel. Once that was settled, Pan Am launched their round-the-world trips on the Lockheed 749 Constellation. Artzybasheff created this stylized and seductive design to lure travelers to the newly available islands of Bermuda. Like a finely detailed embossment, his mermaid carves her way around the territory, mimicking its shape, which is again echoed in the luscious Easter lilies opening up to the sky. Rare!
24 3/4 x 40 1/8 in./63 x 102 cm
The stars are certainly out tonight in Hollywood! The night sky glimmers beneath Modernist slices; the sloping hill below cascades with glittering starlight on its descent to the Hollywood Bowl. The plane featured in the design is a Lockheed L-49 Constellation, the first pressurized airliner adapted for wide commercial use. The first ones entered service for TWA two months after V-J Day; this poster coincides with the manufacture of the final Constellations in 1958. It’s certainly one of Klein’s greatest TWA posters.
33 x 46 7/8 in./84 x 119 cm
“In 1900 cars were still pretty much a hobby for the venturesome. That meant mostly men, but Chéret shows one daring young woman at the wheel in the foreground and another in the smaller background image. The poster is for one of the first European brands of gasoline, sold at the time in canisters at general and hardware stores” (Gold, 17).
37 3/8 x 28 in./95 x 71.3 cm
This forceful image zooms in on the gloved hands of a driver who grips the wheel with resolved control. For this exhibition of modern means of transportation, Klinger maintains a spare color palette and composition which nevertheless gives the illusion of speed and grandeur.
29 x 20 1/2 in./73.7 x 52 cm
Vincent mixes two of his favorite subjects—cars and fashion—with a fine touch of elegance. The Voisin model with open front and chauffeur; the soignée woman being handed into the back seat; the classic black and white afternoon dress complimenting the tiled driveway and the suggestion of an architectural column—it all adds up to the kind of luxury and refinement that a top-of-the-line car aspires to in its publicity. After World War I, Gabriel Voisin—who with his brother Charles were the pioneers of the French aviation industry—took over a prototype from Citroën to develop his own luxurious model. The make shown here is, in all probability, the “Lumineuse” of 1925. Rare!
35 1/2 x 50 1/2 in./90.2 x 128.3 cm
Although this very Deco design easily predates ride-hailing apps, getting a cab in Zurich was just as easy: just dial 77-77, and you’re on the road.
55 x 78 3/4 in./139.6 x 200 cm
“For the third Milan International Auto Show, Mondaini creates a sparse, powerful Art Deco collage composed of three interconnected elements: bold text, an extremely appreciative colossus, and an elegantly simply vehicle. The artist utilizes the flat white of the paper to create a featureless background, which immediately draws the viewer’s attention to the composition in the foreground. It’s a wonderful combination of subtle artistry—especially the use of foreshortening, which thrusts the car toward the viewer—and humor: not only does the stylized embodiment of automotive appreciation hold the sedan (obviously a Fiat) aloft, he unabashedly sings its praises as well. The 1930 Milan Expo featured eighty-three parts and accessories makers as well as fifteen automotive manufacturers who exhibited forty-two different models and thirty-four makes of industrial vehicles” (Crouse/Deco, p. 66).