Auctions | April 26, 2013

Modernist Posters at Swann Galleries May 13


New York—Every spring, poster enthusiasts look forward to Swann Galleries’ auction of Modernist Posters, which is always filled with eye-grabbing examples of cutting-edge design. This year’s sale, which will take place on Monday, May 13 at 1:30 p.m., boasts typography masterpieces, early 20th-century exhibition and product advertisements and alluring posters for recognizable brands.

The most valuable works in the sale are those by Art Deco designer A.M. Cassandre, which include one of his earliest designs, Turmac / La Cigarette Turque, 1925 (estimate: $15,000 to $20,000); a poster for safety glass brand Triplex, Paris, 1931 (also $15,000 to $20,000); the iconic Nord Express, 1927 ($12,000 to $18,000); The Continent / via Harwich, London, 1928 ($8,000 to $12,000); a Grand Sport hat advertisement, 1931 ($15,000 to $20,00); and an unpublished maquette on wood for L’Art Decoratif & la Peinture Moderne Francaise / Lord and Taylor, 1927 ($25,000 to $35,000).

Among other Art Deco highlights are three different posters for the 1925 Paris show that gave the movement its name, Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, two different sizes of Robert Bonfils’s design ($3,000 to $4,000 each), and the scarce small format version of André Girard’s image ($2,000 to $3,000); Franco Barberis’s Candee, featuring a stylish woman walking her dog in the rain, 1929 ($4,000 to $6,000); Franz Lenhart’s image of a woman smoking a cigarette for Modiano, 1935 ($4,000 to $6,000); and a rare Spanish variant of Jupp Wiertz’s Hindenburg poster, Viajes Agradables a Alemania, circa 1935 ($4,000 to $6,000).

Another celebrated travel poster is Imperial Airways / Map of Empire Air Routes, attributed to Hungarian avant-garde artist László Moholy-Nagy ($12,000 to $18,000).

Groundbreaking typographical examples include three works by Kurt Schwitters: Plakat Ausstellung, 1928 ($10,000 to $15,000); Wir Zeigen Werbegraphik, circa 1930 ($15,000 to $20,000); and his collaboration with Theo van Doesburg, Kleine Dada Soireé, 1923 ($20,000 to $30,000). These are followed by a small run of Herbert Matter’s pioneering photomontage posters promoting Swiss tourism.

There are examples of Art Nouveau posters as well as Vienna Secession and Jugendstil images, such as Delftsche Slaolie by Jan Toorop the first significant Dutch Art Nouveau poster, The Hague, 1895 ($8,000 to $12,000); Richard Müller’s Kunsranstalt / Wilhelm Hoffmann, Dresden, 1896 ($3,000 to $4,000) Walter Schnackenberg’s Toulouse-Lautrec inspired Deutsches Theater, Munich, 1910 ($12,000 to $18,000); Tony Garnier’s impressive architectural rendering of Ville de Lyon / Exposition Internationale / La Cité Moderne, 1914 ($3,000 to $4,000); and Ludwig Hohlwein’s posters for Nachtigallschlag, the German Gramophone company, 1910 ($5,000 to $7,500); and binocular maker Zeiss Feldstecher, featuring a well-dressed couple on a cruise, 1912 ($4,000 to $6,000).


American highlights that span the 20th century are Clarence Coles Phillips’s World War I conservation poster Light Consumes Coal, circa 1918 ($4,000 to $6,000); a group of three of Leo Lionni’s Keep ‘em Rolling! posters from WWII ($2,500 to $3,500 for the set); Ben Shahn’s campaign poster for Franklin Roosevelt, Our Friend, New York, 1944 ($4,000 to $6,000); group lots of mid-century cocktail advertisements from a Dining Guide series by Think America Institute; psychedelic music posters; and Paul Rand’s famous poster for IBM, converting their logo into an image of a, eye, a bumble bee and a stylized letter M, 1982 ($3,000 to $4,000).

Also from the late 20th century are two posters by Japanese Pop artist Tadanori Yokoo, Having Reached a Climax at the Age 29, I Was Dead, 1966 ($6,000 to $9,000), and Yukio Mishima, The Aesthetics of End, 1966 ($5,000 to $7,500).

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, May 13. The posters will be on public exhibition at Swann Galleries Friday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, May 11, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.; and Monday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

An illustrated auction catalogue, with information on bidding by mail or fax, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Swann’s poster department at (212) 254-4710 ext. 53, or via e-mail at

Live online bidding is available via Artfact. Click on the Artfact link on the homepage.

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First image: A.M. Cassandre, The Continent/via Harwich, London, 1928 (estimate: $8,000 to $12,000).

Second image: Clarence Coles Phillips, Light Consumes Coal, circa 1918 (estimate: $4,000 to $6,000).