The West Coast equivalent of the iconic Atlantic City posters, this advertisement for train travel to the Golden State captures all the romance and breathtaking scenery available in endless quantities in California.
By Leonetto Cappiello (1875-1942)
“As a son of Italy who made good in Paris, Cappiello was a natural choice for an Italian restauranteur in Paris to publicize his string of establishments—and he did so in three elegant designs over a two-year period… In this third and final poster for Poccardi restaurants, we are [bidding adieu] to two socialites and their companion, who order their chauffeur to whisk them off to any of the three locations indicated at the bottom of the poster” (Cappiello/Rennert, p. 239). The restaurant, famous for its Americano apéritif, was a hotspot for high-class and fashionable Parisians who wanted to see and be seen in their finest Deco wares. This four-sheet poster is illustrated in the book “The Posters of Leonetto Cappiello,” by Jack Rennert, on page 239.
By Emil Cardinaux (1877-1936)
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.
Jean Chassaing (1905-1938)
This poster is as enigmatic as it is captivating. Chassaing appears to have been influenced by Colin’s Bal Nègre and Tumulte Noir, which makes perfect sense, as he was an associate of the better known artist. What is rather surprising is the time of the poster’s production: 1931 was right in the middle of a thirteen-month run of “Paris qui Remue” at the Casino de Paris that made Baker the toast of Paris, and led to the December 1932 start of her next show, “Joie de Paris.” The question that begs to be asked is why Baker would commission a poster without a specific promotional goal. But for Chassaing, this was a big deal. The only known photograph of him depicts him at his easel posing with this poster. It could be that it’s a self-promotional image that he created without Baker’s request or permission—or perhaps it was a perk from a discreet liaison. Unfortunately, we’ll never know. Regardless of the exact motivation behind this poster’s creation, it stands as one of the rarest of all Josephine Baker images, and is an Art Deco masterwork that depicts her with an immediately recognizable stylization, against a background that cleverly incorporates a vast plane of dropout-white, and effectively includes brief textual identification.
By Paul Colin (1892-1986)
“As Colin devoted himself mostly to show business, his commercial designs are rare. Among these, l’opticien Leroy, done for one of his friends, is one of the best. Featureless but for the eyes, a man’s face stands out on a dark background. Is he at the theater, as his dress suggests? With his gloved hands he puts on his glasses. A halo around his eyes, done with airbrush, helps further to magically draw our eyes to his. At the bottom, in big red Art Deco letters in relief, the optician’s name—and that’s all. In its succinctness, a perfect illustration of Colin’s theory that a poster must be ‘a telegram addressed to the awareness’” (Deco Affiches, p. 113). Leroy remained the premier optician in Paris for many decades; Colin likely deserves some of the credit. This is the rare four-sheet, large format version of this image.
By Luciano Achille Mauzan (1883-1952)
Mauzan presents us with a stylish crowd at a trade show for radio, phonograph, and film equipment. It’s a delightful example of Art Deco from one of the style’s more exotic outposts, Buenos Aires. The flags framing the chic clientele indicate this is an international show. One of Mauzan’s most charming designs, it also ranks among his rarest.
One of Mistinguett’s go-to ensembles was The Tramp, whether as the sweet impoverished thing in her Rags-to-Riches performance or the rakish Artful Dodger-esque figure shown here. Regardless, we can always rely on Mistinguett to make any outfit look good.
By Paul Scheurich (1883-1945)
Based in Manhattan, the Butterick Publishing Company reached international audiences with its magazines containing sewing patterns and fashion news. As far away as Berlin, stylish ladies could be inspired by the “journal for elegant women,” a statement which is clearly expressed in Scheurich’s depiction of a lovely fashionista and her equally chic little dog. The repeating vertical lines—a technique often used by Hohlwein—lend a sharp Modernity to the image, while the typography is typical of early 20th century German script. As for the outfit—which perhaps our muse sewed herself, thanks to Butterick’s patterns—it’s nothing short of fabulous. Rare!
Clémentine-Hélène Dufau (1869-1937)
Dufau, a rare female artist of the period, was born in the Basque country: an ideal location for this illustration of Pelote Basque. The effect she creates here is stunning. As the player whips the ball back upon the playing field, he looks right at the female spectator. She returns his glance. Immediately, all of the energy and motion of the athlete’s torque is transferred to the woman’s clothing; frenetic brushstrokes capture the whizz of the ball and the sexual frisson of the moment.
By Jules-Alexandre Grün (1868-1938)
Yowza! Paris-Medoc must be one exceptional table wine. Granted, the redheaded gent looks pretty worked up about the arrival of the beverage—to find out that he had taken both the red and the white varieties and mixed them together, glass by glass until they were gone, wouldn’t be that great a surprise—but there’s nothing particularly decadent about this very rare design. Rather, the pervasive atmosphere is one of excitement, not degeneracy. And after all, if one isn’t allowed to get a bit worked up over a quotidian indulgence every once in a while, then what’s the point of getting out of bed in the morning? This is one of only two known copies!
By Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939)
We have previously seen this lovely Mucha maiden in two designs: one for an unknown client (see Rennert/Weill, 42), and again for the C. van Cortenbergh fils Chromolithographie firm (see following lot). But this is the only known copy of the image created to promote Champagne Roederer. It features “another lovely Mucha maiden, complete with a long swirling wrap and luxuriant, flower-adorned tresses, sitting on a vine branch in an attitude of daydreaming reminiscence” (Rennert/Weill, p. 174). Where she previously held a little notebook, she now has a glass of champagne in hand.
By Manuel Orazi (1860-1934)
Orazi created this Art Nouveau masterpiece to coincide with the 1900 Exposition Universelle. His vision of Loïe Fuller is as original as the performer herself: emerging from a hazy color field anticipating Rothko, she floats upward into erotic form, then bubbles with Japanese family crests—her hair floats as if a Mucha goddess underwater—and then breathes a bouquet of white roses into being. It’s one of at least three color variants. Orazi’s posters are as seldom-seen as they are magnificent: famous for his exquisite La Maison Moderne poster (see PAI-LXXXV, 400), Orazi also created the Calendrier Magique, an occult themed calendar limited to an auspicious 777 copies. Rare!
By Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923)
La Belle Epoque, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, 1982
Timeless Images, Isetan Museum of Art, Tokyo, 1984
“One of Steinlen’s finest lithographic achievements was a huge, six-sheet poster for Affiches Charles Verneau. The bustling street scene is alive with an assortment of colorful Montmartre types, prominent among them the artist’s daughter, Colette, with a hoop, being carefully led by her mother, Emilie. Note how Steinlen shows the working class side by side with the smartly dressed bourgeois, giving them equal dignity—one of his most endearing traits” (Wine Spectator, p. 110). Ruth Iskin indicates that while “this was surely an idealized rendition of the poster’s mixed audience… Steinlen was celebrating the street as a democratic space” (Iskin, p. 200). L’Estampe et l’Affiche concluded its ecstatic review of this poster by declaring “One can’t applaud it enough” (1897, p. 20). Seldom available for sale, this poster is best viewed in person to be truly appreciated.
By Aleardo Terzi (1870-1943)
Considered one of the masters of early poster design in Italy, Terzi takes a symbolist approach to publicizing an exposition in Rome. He was born in Palermo on the island of Sicily, but by 1900 we find him doing drawings for the Rome daily La Tribuna Illustrata. From then on, he starts working in posters, first for the printer Instituto d’Arte Graphiche in Bergamo, then for Ricordi in Milan and others. His draftsmanship and his feeling for colors are impeccable, and his designs are always pictorially fascinating. Here, he lends his talents to the International Exposition, featuring displays of art, archaeology, music, Italian ethnography, and sports. It was produced in several languages; here we are presented with the French version.
By Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
This poster is hand-signed by Lautrec. “The only poster by Lautrec that relates to photography, the medium that so significantly influenced French artists beginning with the Realists and Impressionists, is Sescau, Photographe… The lively Paul Sescau, who was given to the same pleasures as Lautrec and other friends, was the first in his field to photograph the artist’s work and from him Lautrec learned the art of photography. As did Degas, Lautrec often used photographs for figures and compositional motifs in his painting and posters. It is not known who printed the Sescau poster, but Lautrec defrayed the costs… In this poster a woman (possibly Jane Avril) in a red print gown holds a lorgnette in her black-gloved hand and acts as a large repoussoir element, vivid against the overall moss green of the background. The woman’s contracted and shrinking attitude, suggesting that she is fleeing from the camera, is an ironic comment probably intended for Sescau, who ‘used his studio mainly for seduction.’ Head and body largely hidden by a dark cloth, the photographer in Lautrec’s drawing is converted into an almost extraterrestrial creature whose head is composed of a square box with a bulging eye-lens, intent on pursuing or exposing his object. The woman’s dress, designed with a repeating pattern of question marks, could be said to add irony to the message” (Wagner, p. 26). Julia Frey’s interpretation is even more explicit and interesting: “Sescau… who was reputed to use his studio primarily for sexual liaisons, is completely hidden under the black cloth of his camera, but the cloth itself dangles between his legs in a long phallus-shape, and the elegant woman of his focus seems to be trying to flee” (Frey, p. 422).
By Joseph Rovers (1893-1976)
The determined muscularity of Rovers’ runner garnered him both the honor and five-hundred guilder purse promised by the Organizing Committee to the Dutch artists invited to create the official poster for the 1928 Amsterdam games. The stadium designed for the Olympiad by Jan Wils with its marathon tower provides the design’s majestic background. Though not visible in the poster, the top of the tower provided an appropriately regal home for the Olympic flame, which—for the first time in the modern Games—burned throughout the length of the proceedings. Rovers also reproduces the billowing flag with the five interlaced rings, designed by Coubertin, which had been approved at the Paris Congress of 1914. This is the rarest of all pre-World War II Olympic posters!
By A. M. Cassandre (Adolphe Mouron, 1901-1968)
This is one of Cassandre’s most economically realized images, with every line, curve, and shape serving a well-defined function. It is also one of his rarest: it nearly defies logic that such a splendid image was not preserved with more available copies. The reason may well be that this was one of the very first posters ever created by the Art Deco master.
By Ludwig Hohlwein (1874-1949)
The orchid color suggests an aura of gentility and refinement in one of the earliest car posters to subtly entice women to take up motoring. The airplane in the background serves two purposes: it associates the car with the latest advancements in technology, and reminds auto enthusiasts that Daimler, the company that produces Mercedes, also made aircraft engines at this time. In fact, a few diehard buffs had those installed in their vehicles for higher power, according to the firm’s published history—which also identifies the depicted model as the 37/90 PS chain drive with a 9.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. Rare!
By David Klein (1918-2005)
In Klein’s most celebrated poster for TWA, bold squares of color, representing Manhattan’s Times Square, create a pinpoint-perfect definition of New York in the midst of its mid-century Modern moment, although Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building wouldn’t be completed for another two years. This is Klein’s most popular and enduring work.
Posters such as this were printed to showcase the horrors facing the citizens of Madrid during the 1936 attacks in the Spanish Civil War. The photograph, shot by Robert Capa, forms the basis of this emotional collage of a mother and child fleeing a crumbling building while planes drop bombs overhead. This image was printed in Spanish, French, and English; the Spanish text here asks, “What are you doing to prevent this?”