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 89th auction presents Art Deco works from the leaders of the genre: Broders, Cappiello, Cassandre, Colin, Loupot, and more.
By A. M. Cassandre (Adolphe Mouron, 1901-1968)
An advertisement for the Normandie and her “First Arrival in New York City on June 3 ” touted that “The arrival in New York Harbor of the gigantic super-liner Normandie will inaugurate a new era of transatlantic travel. She will set new standards of luxury and speed, steadiness, comfort, and safety… not merely the largest liner afloat (79,280 tons)… but in almost every respect a new kind of liner!” Cassandre’s masterpiece was a new way of selling the glamor and excitement of ocean liner travel. The ship towers above us; a flight of small birds at the bottom gives the image as much scale and strength as the imposing hull itself. The classic design appeared with several variants of text at the bottom; this one, printed in 1938, is one of the last changes, indicating that this proud ship has made 60 Atlantic crossings, covered 400,000 nautical miles, and carried 115,000 passengers by January 1, 1939.
In this magnificent and rare design, we see the famous SS Normandie pulling into the New York Harbor. Its sheer size is made even more imposing when surrounded by several much smaller ships, and the metropolitan skyline appears almost diminutive in comparison. The composition was drawn directly from a photograph taken of the ship on its maiden voyage in 1935.
By Roger Broders (1883-1953)
The rarest of all Broders posters, it’s also the only image Broders created for the Chemin de Fer du Nord—though the railroad is nowhere to be seen. Instead, he gives us the view from an elegant couple’s yacht pulling out of the harbor. The contrast between the modern (both people and ships) and the medieval (the spire of the Old Town Hall and the little skiff at right) makes Dunkirk all the more interesting and mysterious.
By Leonetto Cappiello (1875-1942)
This is an absolutely smashing lithograph of Mistinguett by Cappiello, who has an unusual sensitivity to the actual contours of her face, making it a more realistic portrait than most. The electricity in her toothy grin and the signature headline extending out of the white ribbons is unlike anything else in either the Mistinguett oeuvre, or in the entirety of Cappiello’s work. Cappiello catches her in 1920 for “La Revue Nouvelle” at the Casino de Paris. “Cappiello managed to find a rather novel angle to present the legendary performer: He sets us down in a box seat, a superior vantage point from which to watch her. It was Mistinguett’s first public appearance in several years without her steady partner and lover, Maurice Chevalier, with whom she had just parted ways. It was in this revue that she introduced one of her signature songs, ‘La Parisienne’” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 204).
By Jean Carlu (1900-1997)
Four of France’s leading posterists—Cassandre, Colin, Domergue, and Carlu—were asked to design posters for the 1934 summer season in Paris. Carlu’s design is particularly effective, with a fashionable couple coming together to watch a turf event outdoors.
By Paul Colin (1892-1986)
This portfolio was published at the height of “the Black Craze” in Paris, a period of several years during which black dancers and jazz musicians enjoyed great popularity. It all started in 1925 when the troupe then playing at the Plantation Club in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood was brought to Paris, and lead dancer Josephine Baker introduced the French to that new sensation: the Charleston. Colin, who was in on the whole thing from the beginning, collected the sketches he made of her and of other black performers who followed; these forty-eight plates, published in a limited edition of 500, are the result. The images were drawn directly on the stone by Colin at the Chachoin plant in Paris and then stencil-colored (the term for this technique is pochoir). Pulsating with color and movement, the portfolio contains the very best of Colin’s lithographic work.
By Edward M. Eggleston (1887-1941)
If anything could top Eggleston’s Atlantic City triumphs (see PAI-LX, 259, PAI-LXVII, 294, and PAI-LXXXII, 262), this would be it: a Deco swimming spectacular, with a ’30s Hollywood starlet fronting the extravaganza! Billy Rose’s Aquacade debuted here at the Great Lakes Exposition in Cleveland in 1937. What is an Aquacade, you ask? Nothing less than an all-singing, all-dancing, all-swimming, and diving dream spectacle—the type of performance you’d see in Hollywood spectaculars, but live. Flush with success in Cleveland, Billy Rose took his Aquacade to the 1939 New York World’s Fair where it instantly became the most popular attraction—thanks in part to the starring roles of Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan) and the Olympian Eleanor Holm, who was also Billy Rose’s lover. Rare!
By Pierre Fix-Masseau (1905-1994)
“Fix-Masseau seemed particularly adept at putting the speed and power of locomotives to good effect in his graphic designs. This 1929 poster for the luxury Côte d’Azur Pullman trains of the PLM adopts a track-level viewpoint to emphasize the streamlined ‘windcutter’ profile of the train engine” (Railway Posters, p. 112). This poster is hand-signed by the artist.
By Charles Loupot (1892-1962)
This is the very first poster that Loupot created for the St. Raphaël brand of bitters that featured the two waiters who would become, in a series of redesigns and refinements, the company’s trademark. While future advertisements would evolve in style and situation, what remained was their stark contrast of size and shape, and well as their signature red and white colors. “This premiere realization for St. Raphaël only represents the beginning of a long road to conceptual purity attained somewhere around 1950. One finds in this poster several incongruous elements… rare to an artist with little interest (least of all in his posters) in the third dimension, in the end wavering between the pictorial manner and the graphic. In this composition overflowing with charm, Loupot not only fits his personages to suit the taste of the time, but widens, if only temporarily, the range of the St. Raphaël colors, until then restricted to black, white, and red” (Loupot/Zagrodzki, p. 90).
By Charles Loupot (1892-1962)
Signed gouache and ink maquette.
Provenance: The estate of Charles Loupot
While Loupot did create a finalized poster for Café Precia (see PAI-LXXXII, 335), this iteration was never printed. It’s interesting that his local male purveyor of coffee beans wound up being a woman with a very different posture.
By Carl Moos (1878-1959)
After the turn of the century, one of the most salacious bits of society gossip was that the Marchesa Casati would wander the streets in her long black gowns and coats, accompanied solely by her pet leopard. The idea was so remarkable that in the 1940s, Joseph Paget-Fredericks rendered the Marchesa on canvas with her cat—a painting which became quite well known. While we’ll never know if the Italian socialite was Moos’ inspiration for this design for a Swiss furrier, it is certainly as fabulous and attention-grabbing as the Marchesa herself.
By Tom Purvis (1888-1959)
Travel by train shouldn’t be just about getting to your destination—it should be a fulfilling experience in its own right. To that end, Purvis helps advertise the LNER’s dining facilities, which look quite sophisticated indeed. A stylish flapper, smoking her cigarette beside the warm light of a table lamp, adds to the glamour. “To a contemporary eye, arguably the greatest talent who executed posters for the railways was Purvis… Working in different styles for different clients, he completed his most radical abstract works for the LNER. Not surprisingly, he was consistently praised in the press” (Art for All, p. 35).
By Sepo (Severo Pozzati, 1895-1983)
“Until the last war, the light tobacco found in Europe was usually a blend referred to as ‘English.’ Mainly Virginia tobacco, it had a pure, slightly sophisticated taste—not overly aromatic, not strong, with a very pronounced bright yellow color. The leading brands—Craven and Players—came from Great Britain. In 1932, Seita (the French Government’s tobacco monopoly) took the same tack with a brand they called Week-End, which was sold until 1971. After a period when Sepo’s work reflected the influence of Cappiello, he was developing a graphic approach closer to Cassandre’s. In this poster, he literally illustrates the product’s name. The road symbolizes freedom and relaxation” (Affiche Réclame, p. 56). Cassandre’s 1929 Route Bleue, which also played on the same tree-lined road perspective, no doubt had an influence on Sepo’s image.
By J. Spring (Joseph Stall, 1874-1933)
In a design obviously influenced by Cappiello, an enamored Pierrot toasts the night sky with a glass of Cognac Sorin. 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 “4e Édition Décembre 1930.”
By Jupp Wiertz (1881-1939)
A Berlin magazine gets an effortlessly chic advertisement from Wiertz. He focuses our attention on a stylish fräulein, accessorized with a parasol, a hat to match, and an adorable little dog. This poster also appeared in the April 4, 1920 issue of Das Plakat.
In-gallery viewing February 24-March 25 (11am-6pm daily)