Monday, April 6, 2009

A Poster Auction

I love posters and I don't know why,...oh yes I do. It goes back to the Seventies and the height of the Psychedelic posters that only displayed themselves in full, under a blacklamp. Yes I'm dating myself. We all had these posters down in our cellars away from the folks view. We'd play Santana and old Doobie Brothers and maybe a little James Taylor and we'd smooch and dance and do all sorts of relatively devious things. Anyone over 40 knows what I'm talking about!

And then we grew up and saw the posters from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco days and realized how fantastic they were. I wonder if in fifteen years from now my old Jimi Hendrix "Mother" poster will be considered a classic. Of course it already is.

I think in the right kind of room, say a billiard room, a man's library, a game room, they are the perfect pieces of art. They suggest so much more than a painting. They put you in a frame of mind. I love old travel posters especially and I love liquor posters. This semi-old man just dreams of the old days and these posters bring back those dreams.

On Sunday, May 3, Poster Auctions International will offer more than 500 lots of rare, vintage posters in its semi-annual auction of Art Nouveau and Art Deco masterpieces. Including some of the rarest and best works on paper the auction house has ever seen, this sale is, in a word, unbeatable. Lets take a look a some of the pieces up for sale.

LOT #418: New York Central/Empire State Express.
LESLIE RAGAN (1897-1972)

26 3/4 x 40 1/2 in./68 x 102.8 cm
Printer: Brett Lithographing Co.
Cond Cond B+/Slight tearrs at edges.
"When Central streamlined the Empire State Express, Ragan set the train in the Hudson River Highlands on an autumn afternoon . . . Locomotive driving wheels and apparatus are lost in a blur while elegantly fluted stainless-steel passenger cars reflect the day's waning light. In the background, mountains cast in brilliant hues of red and orange dominate. Ironically, the new streamliner made its debut on December 7, 1941, the day of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. Railroading and advertising were about to change forever" (Travel by Train, p. 124). Rare!
Est: $8,000 - $10,000

LOT #448: Spinelly.
SEM (Georges Goursat, 1863-1934)

31 1/8 x 46 3/4 in./79 x 118.7 cm
Printer: J. Minot, Paris
Cond Cond A-/Unobtrusive tear in arm below sleeve.
Combine two parts irrepressible Sem zest along with one part Cappiello inspiration and you've just concocted yourself the recipe for one terrifically slinky graphic highball. Andree Spinelly was a Paris native who sang in every available music-hall by the time she was barely out of her teens. In her thirties, she also counted London (Cochran's Revue of 1926) and New York (Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolic, 1927) among the international stages she had taken by storm. She suddenly discovered movies when she was in her forties and became typecast as a femme-fatale spy in a number of French melodramas of the 1930s. A previously-seen version of the poster placed Spinelly against an orange background (see PAI-XXVIII, 533); here, she's a charmer backed by blue. The career of caricaturist Sem started modestly enough in his home town of Perigueux where he published his first collection of local celebrities' portraits in 1895. Only after doing the same for Bordeaux in 1897 and Marseilles in 1898 did he venture to Paris where he charmed the city folk with his talent. Hardly anyone of note escaped being captured for posterity. Sem's eye is incomparable, capable of creating figures that are full of life and rich in personality, not simply exaggerations of physical characteristics or temperamental dispositions. He sets it all down and the eye gobbles it up.
Est: $2,500 - $3,000

LOT #449: Cannes.
SEM (Georges Goursat, 1863-1934)

46 3/4 x 31 1/4 in./119 x 79.5 cm
Printer: Imp. Draeger, Paris
Cond Cond A.
Sem produced two posters in 1930 for the city of Cannes, both placing an emphasis-both textually and artistically-on the three chief themes the Cote d'Azur enclave preferred in their graphics: elegance, sports and flowers. Here, in a variant comprised exclusively of the central decorative element previously utilized to reinforce a primary lithographic thrust (see PAI-XLIV, 462), the text has been stripped to all but a monosyllabic identifier that cements in our minds the exact location of the blanched background city playing home to the flowing bower of orange blossoms.
Est: $1,200 - $1,500

LOT #511: Bally.

16 1/8 x 24 in./41 x 61 cm
Printer: Vasselais, Parfis
Cond Cond A.
For thirty years, Villemot was one of the finest French posterists, unsurpassed at setting the right mood with just a few simple lines and bold colors. This represents the very first poster which he executed for Bally shoes, one of his longest-standing clients. Villemot spoke of the advertisement fondly: "The poster appeared on the walls at the beginning of September. These two legs attracted the eye with the power of the graphics, seducing it with the draftsmanship and color . . . The poster isn't only capable of selling the product at a precise moment . . . Moreover, I arrived at this conclusion: The poster needs to be known by the non-buyers. Take shoes for example . . . This poster is going to be seen by passers-by that have no need to replace their shoes, who don't have money for that . . . The message of the poster needs to confirm the make's image, one day transforming the non-buyer into a client for this brand. Jean-Pierre Rocher [Head of Publicity at Bally] understood that very well. He wanted to create a 'Bally image,' memorized [by the public] as we now say" (Villemot, p. 86). A very successful design, described by Vendre of October 1967, as "a high-class work." This is the smaller format.
Est: $1,200 - $1,500

LOT #527: United States Lines/S.S "Washington".
WORDEN WOOD (1932- )

27 x 22 1/4 in./68.5 x 56.5 cm
Cond Cond A.Framed.
Surging through choppy open water with nothing but lesser schooners dotting the background horizon to add perspective to her majesty, the Washington is is a sight to behold in this Wood poster portrait. Launched on August 20, 1932, the Washington sailed on her maiden voyage from New York to Hamburg on May 10, 1933. At the outbreak of war, the liner was heading for Europe, so after calls at Copenhagen and Le Havre, she returned to New York, after which time the liner made two round-trip voyages to Bordeaux in order to repatriate stranded Americans in Europe. The Maritime Commission granted permission for the Washington and her sister ship, Manhattan, to operate a passenger and freight service from New York to Italy, which commenced on January 13, 1940. However, after Italy's entry into the war the service was ended. In 1941, both the Washington and the Manhattan were taken over by the U.S. Navy, with the Washington being renamed the USS Mount Vernon and sailing for Manila as a troop transport. After being released back into civilian service, she made her first postwar voyage from New York to Southampton on April 2, 1946, to bring war brides and children back to the United States. In the end, the Manhattan was laid-up in the Hudson River, sold for demolition and broken up in 1964.
Est: $1,400 - $1,700

LOT #56: Air France/Canada.

24 3/4 x 39 1/8 in./62.7 x 99.4 cm
Printer: Hubert Baille, Paris
Cond Cond A.
"The winged horse (or seahorse) is Air France's distinctive sign . . . Against all expectations, the pilots, flight attendants and ground personnel adopted this emblem and affectionately nicknamed it the 'shrimp.' It embodied the company's pride and that of its employees. It became a sign of recognition, a symbol of worldwide air transportation" (Air France/Dream, p. 85). In Dore's poster for Canadian service, the diminutive becomes the eye of the down-right compass, a necessary instrument for navigating the stylistically rugged terrain populated by conifers, Rocky Mountain majesty and a single logger making his way downriver.
Est: $1,000 - $1,200

LOT #48: Air France/Amerique du Nord.
GUY ARNOUX (1890-1951)

24 1/4 x 38 5/8 in./61.6 x 98 cm
Printer: Hubert Baille, Paris
Cond Cond A-/Slight tears at edges.
With cartoonish Hollywood iconoclasm, a North American metropolis rises from a cloud bank like a newly emerged concrete and steel nirvana. And with this audacious conjuration, Arnoux reveals that American grandeur is far more accessible than one may have thought, all thanks to Air France. Arnoux was a draftsman, illustrator and postcard artist whose few posters were executed in the "Epinal image" style.
Est: $1,400 - $1,700

LOT #81: La Revue des Follies-Bergere.
ADRIEN BARRERE (1877-1931)

30 x 16 3/4 in./76 x 32.5 cm
Cond Cond B/Tears at folds and paper edges.
"It was only from 1902 on, when the Brothers Isola took over the management of the Folies, that they regularly baptized their show 'The Revue of the Folies-Bergere.' The first of the series, by Victor Cottens, consisted only of six tableaux but its success was such that the formula was repeated year after year. The stars of this first revue, in addition to Otero and the crooner Fragson (the pride of the 'cafe-concert' who was tragically murdered by his father) were the solid pillars of the music hall: Marguerite Deval, Clemance de Pibrac and Anne Dancrey on the distaff side; Fugere and Maurel on the male side." (Weill, p. 10). This particular version of the poster appears before the addition of identifying text-of both the performers and the venue-at the poster's bottom.
Est: $1,200 - $1,500

1 comment:

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Love 'em. Mrs. E. and I have a collection of reprints of vintage Côte d'Azur travel posters from the places we knew living there. They line the stairwell walls going upstairs and never fail to remind me that we have seen the promised land.