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 87th auction presents Art Deco works from the leaders of the genre: Cassandre, Colin, Loupot, Klinger, Matania, and more.
47 1/8 x 62 in./120 x 160 cm
Directed by the famous Jean Epstein (and written by his wife), “Six et Demi Onze” is a masterful work of French Impressionist cinema. It follows two brothers who are doctors, the younger of which abandons his career when he falls in love with the beautiful singer Marie. Longing to return to the spotlight, she leaves him, resulting in his suicide. Later, the elder brother starts a relationship with her not knowing of their shared past. He then discovers a 6 1/2 x 11 photograph of Marie in his brother’s belongings, tragically ending their relationship.
47 3/4 x 62 7/8 in./121.2 x 159.8 cm
This design poses Damita as a sensuous object, dripping in Jazz Age rhinestones and pearls. This is surely the scene where her agent and a rich patron transform her from an ordinary stripper to a glamorous performer, and by the looks on their faces, the evolution was a smash hit.
31 3/8 x 46 1/8 in./79.8 x 117.2 cm
From the 150 sketches submitted in the poster competition of the 1924 Paris Olympics, the French Olympic Committee selected two: this one and the accompanying design by Droit. Orsi, a prolific poster artist—his published works number more than a thousand—symbolizes the 8th Olympics with a view of a javelin thrower about to hurl his ancient weapon out over a panorama of Paris; a globe is included to suggest the international scope of the event.
25 x 39 1/4 in./63.4 x 99.5 cm
This handsome Art Deco design shows off the fashionable sporting life of Brides-les-Bains, a spa town in the Rhône-Alpes region of France—”the station of the elegant woman.”
30 5/8 x 42 3/4 in./78 x 108.4 cm
Rather than focus on the examples of Western entertainment available in this cosmopolitan city, this poster shows the more exotic sights of Tunisia, located a relatively short distance off the coast of Marseille.
54 3/4 x 78 7/8 in./139.7 x 200.3 cm
“The lovely brunette invites us smilingly to partake of the vermouth Contratto. The oversize green leaf may be intended to remind us of the herbs that go into the preparation of vermouth, mainly gentian, but also simply to provide a color contrast in the pleasing composition. This is Cappiello’s second design for this firm: the first, in 1922, having been done to promote the firm’s sparkling wine (see PAI-LXXXVI, 166).
35 5/8 x 50 3/8 in./90.5 x 128 cm
This is one of Cardinaux’s best and most evocative posters. It recalls childhood memories of snowy escapes and family photographs from vacations past. The main purpose of the poster—the promotion of St. Moritz as a winter sports hot spot—is left to the background. Instead, an elegantly bundled lady is the focus, her party deep in lazy chitchat while skaters glide by their chairs. Cardinaux doesn’t need to overstate the Alps’ ideal climate for wintry sports—instead, he allows us to luxuriate in a relaxing getaway.
30 3/8 x 47 in./77.2 x 119.4 cm
In this exceptionally rare and unusual design, Cassandre shows that Thomson brings the power of electricity straight to your hands.
34 5/8 x 45 1/4 in./88 x 115 cm
Here we have a superlative trio of sinewy minstrels from the palette of Colin, one that doesn’t waste its time wallowing in any form of political correctness, opting rather to allow exaggerated Jazz Age caricature to entertain as well as inform. And though one might naturally assume that Josephine Baker once more was taking center stage, that wouldn’t be the case. “Two months after she opened at the Folies-Bergère, Josephine’s domination of the review scene was threatened by Florence Mills’s arrival as one of the stars of Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of 1926… Blackbirds opened at the Théâtre-Restaurant des Ambassadeurs… The first night, a gala special was scheduled for 12am, so the working show people of Paris could come. Josephine drifted in half an hour late, accompanied by eight white men in tails… wearing this white ermine floor-length coat, and a black velvet evening gown with a hood around her face. By October, Blackbirds had moved to London, and with Florence Mills no longer on the scene, Josephine was once again the biggest black star in Paris” (Josephine, p. 138-139 & 143). Also known as the “Queen of Happiness,” Mills was one of the most successful entertainers of the 1920s. Many spoke about her enchanting qualities, but it was her singing that was most spellbinding. When Blackbirds moved to London’s Pavilion Theatre, it enjoyed 276 performances. The Prince of Wales was said to have seen the show more than twenty times and Mills became so popular that she became to London what Josephine Baker was to Paris. Sadly, she perished in 1927 after a delayed surgery for appendicitis. She was only thirty-two years old.
12 3/8 x 17 in./31.4 x 43.2 cm
Although Colin has left us without a name for this silhouetted dancing figure, it’s safe to assume that the drawing is of his muse, Josephine Baker. He created a number of maquettes and drawings of her, often in a dynamic position between motions, as seen here.
24 1/2 x 38 5/8 in./62.2 x 98 cm
This is a rare text variant of the previous lot which highlights Monte Carlo’s amenities: the beach, the sea club, pools, restaurants, and seaside sophistication.
50 x 40 in./127 x 101.5 cm
The giddy joy is palpable in this design for rail travel to England’s East Coast. Droit captures the utter excitement of running towards the water’s edge with a crew of stylish female friends and children.
13 7/8 x 22 1/2 in./35.2 x 57 cm
This intriguing Deco design eschews outlines for a formal feeling of a black-and-white masquerade. It’s time for Nice’s carnival, and the best way to experience it is with this four-day package on the Côte d’Azur courtesy of Messageries Maritimes. This is the smaller format.
40 1/4 x 30 1/2 in./102.2 x 77.6 cm
The notion that caricatures can sting is made delightfully graphic in this superior design by Klinger for a caricaturists’ ball in pre-World War I Berlin. The poster also “incorporate[s] one of Klinger’s favorite visual tricks, in that [it forces] the viewer to focus on the poster more concretely because the focal point is slightly off-center… The bald, red-nosed subject of the ball at the Admirals Palace seems unaware of the caterpillar crawling up the side of his head. Against the backdrop of a city literally vibrating with energy and plastered with posters, [Klinger’s] works couldn’t fail to stand out” (Klinger, p. 55). Rare!
17 1/2 x 35 5/8 in./44.4 x 90.5 cm
This is the official poster for the first ever FIFA World Cup, held in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1930. FIFA selected the location in celebration of Uruguay’s centenary of its first constitution and their national football team’s continued winning streak at the 1928 Summer Olympics. Clearly, it was a spectacular year for the country—they went on to defeat Argentina 4-2 in the finals, making Uruguay both the first ever host and first ever winner of the World Cup. And Laborde created a fantastic Art Deco design for the event: using simple and elegant lines, he depicts a goalkeeper making a save above his playful and experimental text. This poster also features a stamp from the executive committee of the first World Cup.
28 1/2 x 40 1/4 in./72.3 x 102.3 cm
One of the finest travel posters ever created—Lauro’s Art Deco masterpiece perfects a vision of Trouville’s boardwalk as the place to see and be seen in the 1920s. With the famed Casino in the background, every detail here is perfect: from the beauty mark on the foremost flapper’s cheek, to the exaggerated hat-doffing of the gentleman, to the whiplash of two college lads, one éminence grise, and a German Shepherd—even to the au courant stylings of the women’s footwear. All things contribute to the chic, dynamic, head-turning ambiance of France’s first resort town, a favorite of Monet, Flaubert, Proust, and Duras—now thoroughly fashioned as a place for the Great Gatsby to make an appearance. The artist, Lauro, is also known for his Le Rire caricatures and film posters.
38 5/8 x 55 in./98 x 139.7 cm
This fanciful design for a French wine producer shows a red-faced waiter walking across a sea of tables, filling each glass with an endless stream of Le Dauré’s latest vintage. This poster has incredibly fresh colors!
50 1/8 x 77 7/8 in./127.2 x 197.8 cm
One of Loupot’s classics in high Art Deco mode, Stop-Fire makes a big deal out of a little extinguisher meant to smother car fires. Loupot uses a huge illustration of a candle-snuffer to swallow up the flames enveloping a car, which is now reduced in size to a toy. “We see a transitional vision, one in between illustration, symbolism, and the praise of the object” (Loupot/Zagrodski, p. 67).
49 7/8 x 40 in./126.5 x 101.3 cm
Some of the most spectacular British Railway posters are those created by Matania for the LMS Railway. Born in Naples in 1881, he moved to London around the outbreak of World War I. He illustrated books and magazines in addition to his poster work for the railroad. Here, Matania gives us an artfully rendered night scene with elegant theatregoers adding quite a bit more than a touch of class to the sidewalk. Astounding!
29 1/4 x 43 1/8 in./74.2 x 109.5 cm
“Part of the Museum of Fine Arts, ‘El Retiro’ was put at the artist’s disposal, and he organized a general exhibition of his work there in the spring of 1927. Thus he was soon known in both the commercial and artistic spheres. Next the municipality asked Mauzan to organize bill-posting throughout the city, something that had been utterly neglected up to that moment… But it was through his exhibition that he really entered into the cultural life of the country. The poster was no longer considered a second class art form. That was news to Argentinean artists, critics, and intellectuals. The association ‘La Peña’ dedicated en evening to Mauzan, in the course of which one of its most prestigious members, Conrad Eggers Lecour, talked on ‘El affiche moderno.’ In fact, the artist’s commercial launch in Argentina was stunning” (Mauzan, p. 26-27).
35 3/4 x 47 3/4 in./90.7 x 121.3 cm
Schnackenberg often referred to his posters as “suggestive dreams”—and this design in particular projects an aura of arch luxuriousness, low comedy, and high fashion—a world both unsettling and delectably absurd. Nothing is ever quite what it seems at the Odeon Casino, and that is part of the irresistible allure of Schnackenberg’s intoxicating style.