Auctions | June 10, 2013

Multiple Auction Records Set at Swann Galleries’ Modernist Posters Auction


New York—On Monday, May 13 Swann Galleries held an auction devoted to Modernist Posters that featured Art Deco masterpieces by A.M. Cassandre, art posters by Tadanori Yokoo, and much more. The sale established new record prices for several images and artists.

Nicholas D. Lowry, Swann President and Posters Specialist, said, “We were very pleased to set records for artists and posters, which in some cases shattered previous auction results. Of particular note were artist records for Tadanori Yokoo and Louis C. Kalff, and the highest auction price for Kurt Schwitters and Theo van Doesburg’s Kleine Dada Soireé achieved since 1991. It was a robust sale in which rare and exceptional images proved to be very much in demand.”

The sale’s top lot was an early-career A.M. Cassandre design for Turmac / La Cigarette Turque, Paris, 1925, so rare we could not locate another copy at auction in the past 30 years. It exceeded expectations to sell for record $66,000*.

Among other Cassandre highlights were Triplex, an advertisement for safety glass, Paris, 1931, $22,800; the iconic Normandie, Paris, 1935, $13,200; and Chemin de Fer du Nord, Lille, 1929, $5,040. Another stunning Art Deco work was Louis C. Kalff’s design for Philips light bulbs, circa 1928, which set an artist record of $5,040.

Record-setting Art Nouveau posters included Jan Toorop’s celebrated salad-oil advertisement Delftsche Slaolie, considered the first important Dutch Art Nouveau poster, The Hague, 1895, $12,000; and Ludwig Hohlwein’s Nachtigallschlag, for the Song of the Nightingale record label, Munich, 1910, $12,000. From the same era, but evoking a much different aesthetic, was Artur Berger’s avant-garde poster for a paint company, Marx Email / Streichfertige Lacke, 1912,  $4,800.

Record prices were also achieved for Tommi Parzinger’s mannerist-style image of a dancing harlequin, Hochburg des Prinzen / Karneval, Munich, 1928, $4,560; a Hebrew-language poster for the Fritz Lang movie M, by an unknown designer, circa 1931, $8,400; Xanti Schawinsky’s photomontage 1934 - XII / SI, Milan, 1934, $4,320; Franz Lenhart’s elegant Modiano, Trieste, 1935, $7,800; and the text-only It’s Andy Warhol’s Explosion! / Exploding Plastic Inevitable, by an unidentified designer, Boston, 1966, $8,400.


A pair of Pop Art posters from the mid 1960s by Japanese artist Tadanori Yokoo attracted a lot of attention. Having Reached a Climax at the Age of 29, I Was Dead, 1965, set an artist record price of $52,800, and his Yukio Mishima, The Aesthetics of End, 1966, sold for $10,800.

Also among the top lots was Theo van Doesburg and Kurt Schwitters’s collaboration, Kleine Dada Soiree, the poster for their 1923 tour introducing artists and the public to the Dadaist movement, which sold for $24,000; as well as H.A. Volodimer’s Gatsby-esque Grand Prix d’Endurance de 24 Heures, Angers, 1923, $13,200; and fashion images such as Otto Baumberger’s PKZ, Zurich, 1923, $5,520 and a Candee, featuring a leggy woman sporting red boots as she walks in the rain with her little dog, 1929, $5,040.

For complete results, an illustrated auction catalogue (with prices realized on request) is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to consign items to upcoming poster auctions, please contact Nicholas D. Lowry at (212) 254-4710, extension 53, or via e-mail at

*All prices include buyer’s premium.

First image: A.M. Cassandre, Turmac/La Cigarette Turque, Paris, 1925. Sold for a record $66,000 (including buyer's premium).

Second image: Tadanori Yokoo, Having Reached a Climax at the Age of 29, I Was Dead, 1965. Sold for an artist record of $52,800 (including buyer's premium).