Editor’s Note: Posterboy is our staff photographer, graphic designer, and technical support liaison (aka Creative Director).
Lot 60: White Star to New York. 1929.
Frank Newbould (1887-1950)
As a resident of New York City one is confronted with the past, present, and future on a daily basis. When I say confronted, I mean bludgeoned. The city changes about as fast as a shoplifter in a department store fitting room. Buildings are torn down, re-purposed, and constructed in a cyclical fashion that would make the ancient architects of Rome blush. White Star to New York, by Frank Newbould, takes us back to when the skyscraper was one of the greatest technological achievements of the time. They were new and I’m sure as frightening as the internet is to some today. When I look at this poster I see the Woolworth building reflecting the future much like the asymmetrical modern glass towers of today; I imagine the dirty streets and the rotten fish smell of the South Street Seaport and this enormous and clean modern structure looming over not only the grime of lower Manhattan but the entire Eastern Seaboard.
129. Marseille / Porte de l’Afrique du Nord. 1929.
Roger Broders (1883-1953)
When I look at this poster all I see is geometric shapes. It’s as if Broders has created a cubist seaport out of a collage of ships. The romantic red, black, and white ships disappearing into the background create a dramatic perspective and depth of field. The poster is alive with movement and scale pulling you further inland.
140. Gorges de la Diosaz. ca. 1930.
Roger Broders (1883-1953)
As a transplanted New Englander living in New York City, this travel poster by Roger Broders reminds me of vacations in the White Mountains. Much like the Marseille above, Broders creates a dramatic perspective, this one of a single silhouetted man traversing a wooden bridge above a roaring mountain stream. This is what going to the mountains is all about: being alone with one’s thoughts, while carefully following a path seemingly on the precipice of danger. With one hand on a walking stick and the other on the rail, the man looks up the ravine. Am I there yet? Where does it end? My god, what have I done with my life? The genius of a Broders travel poster is his ability to not only capture the geographical essence of the destination but also the reason people go on trips in the first place – to lose oneself in the unknown, to be overwhelmed by exotic beauty.
226. Air Afrique. 1935.
There is something about peering out the window of a plane as one travels high above a foreign land. The immediate intimacy of a location with miles of terrain in your view. The horizon in the distance. A storm approaching. A sun setting far away. The excitement and anticipation. Roquin captures it all with this image. The interior of the plane is muted and mostly black and white, while the landscape is lit with a vibrant yellow sunset reflecting off the river. I love the safari clothes and the details of the seat, in stark contrast to the comforts modern air travel.
336. Nord Express. 1927.
A. M. Cassandre (Adolphe Mouron, 1901-1968)
The Nord Express by Cassandre… need I say more? Not a single useless element on the page. Every shape, line, and letter is integral to the design. Each auction cycle I shoot the posters and make a mental note of which ones I’d like to use for a catalogue cover or an advertisement. Most catalogue covers are of a detail from a poster with our auction copy layered above, creating an image we can use to advertise the sale. This is something you just can’t do with a Cassandre. A Cassandre must be viewed in full, never with the text cropped out. The typography is just as much a part of the image as the train.
380. Vers le Mont-Blanc: 3 Posters. 1928.
Georges Dorival (1879-1968)
Est: $6,000-$7,000. (3)
A few months back I was shooting the posters for the upcoming sale and I had the chance to view these images one at a time, not knowing it was a set of three. First I unrolled the daytime image; although I found it pleasing I didn’t really think much of it until a few moments later when I unraveled the twilight image and realized what was going on. I’ve always been fascinated by the changing color of light at different times of the day. Sunrise and sunset are the best; the light is coming from a low angel and is at it’s warmest and most colorful. This is another poster that reminds my of my time spent in the White Mountains — leaving the North Shore of Massachusetts in the late afternoon, driving through the mountains of New Hampshire, seeing the mountains turn from green to purple to black, reaching the destination under a canopy of cold winter stars, getting out of the car and smelling the fresh mountain air.
405. Grosser Preis von Deutschland. 1934.
Theo Matejko (1893-1946)
406. Grosser Masaryk Preis. 1935.
Walter Gotschke (1912-2000)
I wanted to pick one image from our selection of German Auto Racing posters, but I could not for life of me chose between these two. Two posters with seemingly the same subject matter that are executed in a completely different style. Both capture the excitement, speed, and danger of an auto race.
I’ve never seen a poster with a better use of neutral tones than Matejko’s Grosser Preis von Deutschland. The atmosphere created around the subject is stunning (I would love to see the maquette!). The driver shifts his weight to the left, as the aggressive front tire of another car makes itself visible in the lower right-hand corner. The image could fall apart any moment and blow up in your face. It’s dirty, rough, loud and alive. The swastika seems like some kind of historical vandalism.
Gotschke’s Grosser Masaryk Preis shows the auto race in a different light, with sleek art deco lines and shapes. Using just red, black, and blue, the modernity and speed of the automobile is the focus of this poster. You don’t see the dirt or hear the roar of the engine like in Matejko’s poster, but you feel the grace and power of a modern technological marvel.
415. Inquiètude. 1897.
Eugène Grasset (1841-1917)
If you’re a regular client, you’ve probably noticed an up-tick, in the last couple of years, of lovely poster nymphets showing up in our promotional materials. That’s my fault; I have been known to stare longingly at the brunette half of Mucha’s Moët & Chandon panels for minutes at a time. As much as I love my favorite Mucha girls (Moët & La Trappistine (same model), brunette Job, Femme aux Coquelicots, Flirt), for this auction my favorite and most enchanting girl is the one featured in Grasset’s Inquiètude. She looks like she’s playing a flirtatious game of hide and seek, but by the look on her face it seems that she can’t wait to be found.
498. Otto Grünbaum & Co. 1920.
Hans Neumann (1888-1960)
Having planned my first ski trip in 20 years for next month, my father has agreed to loan me some ski-wear. Not to knock my father’s sense of style, since he fashions himself as a closet bohemian, but contemporary ski clothes are just not my thing. Sure they’re more lightweight and keep you warm without making you sweat, and all the modern conveniences, etc, but as an artsy-fartsy New Yorker living in Brooklyn I’d feel much more comfortable in Otto Grünbaum’s outerwear than anything I’d see on the slopes today. Look at the socks and the scarves. Look at the girl’s skirt. Who wears a skirt on the slopes these days? And her sweater/shawl combo is as cool as the snow she’s about to ski on. Note to self: find candy striped scarf and socks, high-waisted fitted black pants, fitted coat, giant white gloves, and a Santa Claus hat. Neumann’s illustration has a beautiful charcoal-like feel to it that emphasizes the clothes without sacrificing the beauty of the surrounding image.
560. Des Chats, par Steinlen. 1898.
Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923)
Calling all cat lovers! This is the coolest book of cat illustrations I have ever seen. I hoarded this in the photo studio until it finally went on display in the gallery last month. Each page of the book has an illustration telling a story of a feline getting into trouble, sometimes of it’s own accord, sometimes at the expense of a precocious little girl. No one draws cats and captures their nature better than Steinlen. From the elongated neck and protruding chest of the Chat Noir to the begging kitties of Lait pur Sterilise — Steinlen gets cats right and this book is no exception. You have your obligatory cat getting wound up in a ball of yarn; a cat jumping into a bucket of water; and then you have the almost creepy sequence of a little girl trapping birds in a paper bag, only for a big black cat to come out from behind a tree and eat her in one gulp. There is also a page of illustrations of cats in different sleeping positions. Each page shows the same amount of care that Steinlen put into his most famous cat images.
571. P. Sescau / Photographe. 1894.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
I have been trying to get a Lautrec cover for our catalogue for the last two years. Aristede Bruant almost made it and was beaten out by Falcon Cycles by Pal. And this time around the Sescau got beaten out by Broder’s Dunkirque. How could Pal and Broders beat out Lautrec? One: Lautrec’s posters have the same problem, if you want to call it a problem, that Cassandre’s have – they are brilliant designs. Every stroke, every letter, every color is so important that it’s next to impossible to isolate a section of the poster, put “PAI-LXII: Rare Posters” over it, and have it look good. Though I will keep on trying! Two: We have 58 Broders in this auction!
This is such a great, almost fashion-like, image. Her orange dress, black gloves, and yellow mask against the light green background creates one of Lautrec’s most unique color palettes and most playful images. The photographer Sescau, who “used his studio mainly for seduction,” legs spread and body intent, reads like a Terry Richardson of the Belle Epoque. The red typography is brilliant and integral.
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