Luciano Achille Mauzan (1883-1952)
Mauzan produced well over 2,000 posters during the course of his long, prodigious career. His boundless imagination is a landscape of ingenious concepts and incongruous associations working in harmony. He lays on color freely, but what marks his designs as unique is his sense of humor, by turns witty, grotesque, mad, pungent, charming, and openly affectionate.
Born in France, Mauzan began his life as an illustrator in Italy in 1909, working for Ricordi and other top notch printing firms. He remained there until 1927 when he and his wife were invited to Buenos Aires. He continued a frantic pace of poster production, doing most of his best, and also set up the Argentinian division of his publishing house, Editorial Affiches Mauzan. In 1933, the Mauzans returned to France, where he would continue his work for the rest of his days.
Mauzan’s fierce and embattled soldier nearly reaches off the page to proclaim to us: “Do your duty! Take out the loan!” So powerful was this image that it is considered by many to be the image of the First World War. “This [poster] was to take its place in the ranks of the world’s army of exhortation—the pointing, beckoning, declaiming figures that called from everywhere to everyone for more of everything. No less compelling than his counterparts, the Italian version certainly appeared in greater numbers, and in a wider variety of shapes and sizes than the pointers and beckoners of any other country. He was hung in gigantic reproductions across the streets, posted in multiple sets on outsize hoardings, printed by the million as postcards, folders and leaflets, and reproduced in magazine and newspaper advertisements… It was an indignity that he survived: his accusing hand remained for decades, rankling in the general memory” (Rickards, p. 24).
So powerful was Mauzan’s first poster for Credito Italiano (see previous lot) that the Italian government “did not hesitate to publish the poster representing the head of the soldier in gigantic proportions in order to display it on the most prestigious squares and monuments in the country” (Mauzan, p. 88). To see this face plastered throughout the streets, squares, and even theatres must have been a powerful act of intimidation. And for Mauzan, these two posters established his position as a leading poster artist of his time.
As is often the case, Mauzan chooses a whimsical way to publicize a product: here it’s a feisty old gent stomping his way through oversized bunches of pale green grapes. It’s a design that more than lives up to the qualities we have come to expect from Mauzan: vigor and full of gusto. This is the second printing of December, 1922.
This brilliant design recommends that you “Listen on a Crosley radio” for a full spectrum of music. One can almost see the music swing right out of these feminine musicians. “This composition is undoubtedly one of the best [of Mauzan’s]. Grace, elegance, a tasteful decorative layout and gorgeous colors; this poster obtained the strong approval of [the French] public and even more difficult, the unreserved approval of the North American public” (Mauzan/Paris, p. 66).
Anyone who suffers from arthritis or rheumatism can testify that this exquisitely simple Mauzan design is not that much of an exaggeration. The powerful serpent has coiled itself tightly around the pale legs, its grip tightening and crippling the victim with ever increasing pressure and pain. But just when things look their worst, the liberating hand of Untisal appears, brandishing its golden sword, slicing through the merciless viper, and releaving the discomfort with one fell swoop. The war against pain is never over, but Untisal is there to provide a welcome respite. This is the smaller format.
Mauzan’s brilliant interpretation of headache relief was clearly inspired by the text—”Cafiaspirina lifts the pain”—which he very well may have written himself. He shows us a miserable, green-haired mask of pain being lifted by the product to reveal a smiling, pain-free face beneath. It’s a difficult abstract idea handled with winning clarity; Mauzan even liked it so much that he adapted it for the cover of one of his catalogues. The product was manufactured by Bayer, and posters like these aimed to introduce the medication to Argentinean audiences. Rare!
One of four designs Mauzan created for the Casa America, Argentina’s “home of music,” this image focuses on an elaborately attired chanteuse strumming an oversized music note.