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 85th auction presents Art Deco works from the leaders of the genre: Broders, Cassandre, Colin, Gesmar, Nizzoli, and more.
42 x 58 in./106.7 x 147.3 cm
World champion Georges Carpentier took on Australian George Cook in the European Championship on January 12, 1922. This was Carpentier’s return to the ring after a painful defeat by Jack Dempsey in July, 1921. The arena, London’s Albert Hall, was packed with men in tuxedos and large numbers of women—a controversial audience at the time. Carpentier knocked out Cook in the fourth round, securing his stature in the world of boxing. “The great sensational match” was recorded and released as a film by Gaumont. This anonymous artist created a stirring scene of the two men positioning themselves before the first blow falls; the aforementioned tuxedoed men gaze on in anticipation from the shadows. This is the only known copy of this poster—rare indeed!
35 3/4 x 50 7/8 in./91 x 129 cm
This is the before-letters version of this delightfully simple design for Jecklin pianos. Normally, the sheet music in front of the child restates the brand’s name and specialties, but it is just as effective without that text.
39 1/2 x 55 1/8 in./100.4 x 140.2 cm
This is one of the most famous and whimsical posters. In a dizzying arena of alcohol advertisements, and a saturated market for apéritifs, digestifs, and anise-based liquors, Evangelisti needed something immediately eye-catching that would burn into the memory. This funky monkey did the trick. Biscaretti, who was a founder of the Museo dell’Automobile in Turin, was an industrial designer who only produced a handful of posters—most of them for the auto industry, between 1920 and 1930.
24 7/8 x 39 1/2 in./63.2 x 100.5 cm
In one of Broders’ best posters for the Riviera, a swank Art Deco couple gazes down at the full tennis courts below. Meanwhile, the packed stadium seating provides ample views of the sporting activities and the Mediterranean beyond.
24 3/8 x 39 1/8 in./62 x 99.4 cm
In his posters for maritime subjects, Cassandre always played with the geometry of decks and stacks, and this is an outstanding example of the basic Art Deco approach. Note how the shape of the train engine is artfully hidden in the side of the ship’s hull.
29 x 41 1/4 in./73.7 x 104.8 cm
The North Star was the name of a Paris-to-Amsterdam express; Cassandre gave it glamour by catching the purely sensual enjoyment of rail travel: the rhythm of the wheels, the fascination of the endless perspectives of converging tracks, and the North Star itself. In their book on the artist, Brown and Reinhold claimed that this poster “May be his most audacious… Cassandre solves the problem of having to advertise a daytime service that uses a nocturnal image as its name. He achieves his solution by using the somewhat surreal device of turning a night sky into the ground of the poster and having the star hover above it. In what could have been a static arrangement, the rails are laid out so that they imply forward movement… Even though such an arrangement is mechanically false… it is precisely because of it that the poster attains a dynamic realism more compelling than ‘reality itself,’ which is why Étoile du Nord is one of Cassandre’s best images” (p. 13). Hillier declares this work “his masterpiece,” and we couldn’t agree more: it’s a truly mesmerizing achievement, and arguably one of the best posters ever created.
30 1/4 x 45 7/8 in./77 x 116.6 cm
This maquette for a poster promoted a revue with music by Vincent Scotto (Josephine Baker’s favorite composer who wrote her biggest hit, “Two Loves”); the star was Cora Madou. Colin contributed 25 set designs for the show, which was presented at the Studio de Paris.
28 1/2 x 40 1/8 in./72.5 x 102 cm
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!
35 5/8 x 49 in./90.5 x 124.6 cm
Full of masculinity and movement, Engelhard presents us with the 1919 title fight in Munich’s largest theatre.
30 5/8 x 47 3/8 in./77.8 x 120.4 cm
Mistinguett achieved her greatest success at the Moulin Rouge, where her 1926 revue was simply called Mistinguett. “It is one of Gesmar’s most beautiful posters: without jewels or fancy dress, it’s the Miss, child of Paris, which he shows us here… alluring, tender, and roguish with the rose between her lips which we would like to pluck” (Folies-Bergère, p. 11).
24 5/8 x 39 3/4 in./62.5 x 101 cm
This nighttime image of the Normandie offers a very different experience from Cassandre’s poster of the same title (see No. 235). Here, she quietly glides away from the glimmer of New York City. With six decks of cabin lights reflecting in the water, there is an element of romance combined with the usual magnificence of the ship. After the Cunard Line’s Queen Mary beat the Normandie’s speed records in August of 1938, French Line began promoting her as “the world’s most perfect ship” rather than the fastest. Such a description could not be better expressed than in this image.
24 1/2 x 39 1/4 in./62.4 x 99.6 cm
This excellent Modernist design combines hints of Cassandre’s famous LMS (see PAI-LXI, 184) with photomontage to announce the nonstop four-hour trip one can take from Paris to Liège aboard the French National Railway.
55 x 76 3/4 in./140 x 195 cm
Nizzoli’s work for Campari is a masterpiece of composition and a classic of Cubism: as the table is raked forward and down, the bottles and glass manage to stay upright; the entirety of the composition lunges toward the viewer in gravity-defying space. All is grounded by the very traditional lettering. It’s one of the most brilliant Art Deco designs ever created. This is the two-sheet, Italian-language format.
26 x 39 3/4 in./66 x 101 cm
The mighty Lady Liberty invites us to visit the “wonder city of the world.” Treidler imbues the scene with pure urban majesty: stars twinkle in the evening blue sky while Manhattan’s lights flicker on below; a spotlight at the island’s southernmost tip washes a golden glow over our Statue of Liberty. One can even imagine the nighttime hush of the city following the daytime noise: taxis whir past, friends walk home from dinner, and the city cools off after another metropolitan day. Rare!
15 3/4 x 23 3/4 in./40 x 60.4 cm
Dripping in fur, feathers, and jewels, this design for Mistinguett’s “Paris Miss” revue at the Casino de Paris makes up for its small size with enormous glamour.