$100K Man Ray Leads Swann Galleries Auction Celebrating Graphic Design
New York—Swann Galleries will offer an auction of Graphic Design on Thursday, May 3, celebrating innovation in the field, with an array of vintage posters, along with a coterie of fine graphically-oriented objets d’art including original maquettes, an Hermès scarf and playing cards.
Leading the selection is an extremely rare panel from Man Ray’s iconic campaign for the London Underground, - Keeps London Going, evoking the artist’s signature Rayographic style. The indelible image equates the solar system with the functionality of the London subway system; it was the world’s most expensive travel poster from June of 2007, when it sold for $100,906 at Christie’s, until 2012, when a poster by A.M. Cassandre sold at Swann Galleries for $159,900. In this auction, it carries an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000.
Another masterwork of urban transportation design is Massimo Vignelli’s iconic map of the New York City subway system, the descendant of which is still in use today. The neat, organized lines of what in reality was a veritable labyrinth of overlapping train systems signaled a new age in graphic design, in which geographic accuracy was subordinate to visual appeal. Offered in the auction is the revised edition of the original 1972 version, printed in 1978 ($1,000 to $1,500).
A wealth of early Secessionist works will be available, many of them in the strikingly tall vertical format common in Viennese posters at the time. Of special interest is Alfred Röller’s tri-color graphic masterpiece for XIV Ausstellung / Secession / Klinger Beethoven, 1902, which also served as the frontispiece for the exhibition catalogue, estimated at $30,000 to $40,000. Another fine example is Oskar Kokoschka’s Kunstschau, 1908, done in a whimsical fairytale style, and valued between $20,000 and $30,000. The cover lot for the sale is Frommes Kalendar, 1899, by Koloman Moser, depicting a woman holding an hourglass and an ouroboros, symbolizing the waning of the century and the circle of life ($20,000 to $30,000).
Charles Loupot is well represented in the sale with a large selection of works spanning his career. Leading the pack is a dramatic tour-de-force of printing: the 1949 advertisement for Lion Noir / Cirage - Crème, a shoe-polish company, depicting a lion in glossy black against a matte background ($30,000 to $40,000). Another highlight is Cailler / Chocolat au Lait, 1921, and the minimalistic ad for Voisin Automobiles, 1923 (each $15,000 to $20,000). Also by Loupot is a pair of pochoir prints depicting high Art Deco fashion on models against a complementary misty background. Together they carry an estimate of $2,500 to $3,500.
The auction will feature a large selection of advertisements for automobiles, perhaps as a consequence of the manufacturers’ wish to seem forward-thinking. Among several early highlights are Ludwig Hohlwein’s rose-tinted poster for Mercedes in 1914, and the azure version of Roger Pèrot’s masterpiece, Delahaye, 1932 ($20,000 to $30,000 and $8,000 to $12,000, respectively).
Adolphe Mouron Cassandre was commissioned by Hermès to design fashionable accessories in his signature style. The resulting collaboration is represented in the auction by a fine silk scarf reminiscent of the architectural mazes of M.C. Escher, 1951, and a set of playing cards with two decks in vivid color (each $700 to $1,000).
Based on the recently released map of the London Underground by Henry Beck, Laszló Moholy-Nagy’s poster for Imperial Airways / Map of Empire & European Air Routes, 1936, reimagines the world as an interconnected, eminently navigable network for travel ($3,000 to $4,000).
Influential works from the second half of the twentieth century include signed exhibition posters by Keith Haring and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as Günther Kieser’s concert poster for The Doors and The Canned Heat, 1968 ($3,000 to $4,000). Also of note is an original oil painting by Stanley Mouse, designer of The Grateful Dead’s iconic skull and roses motif, of, naturally, a skull crowned with roses. The estimate is $3,000 to $4,000.
The complete catalogue with bidding information is available at www.swanngalleries.com.
Additional highlights can be found here.
Image: Lot 76: Man Ray, [London Transport] - Keeps London Going, 1938. Estimate $80,000 to $120,000.