Swann Galleries’ 15th Annual Auction of Modernist Posters on May 7


New York—This spring marks Swann’s 15th annual auction dedicated to Modernist Posters, which will take place on Thursday, May 7. This year’s sale has the best selection of fresh and compelling images to date—many never seen at auction before—by some of the biggest names in graphic design. 

A wonderful collection of Bauhaus graphics, comprising posters, books, magazines, flyers and prints takes center stage. Highlights include Willi Baumeister’s Die Wohnung / Werkbund Ausstellung, 1927, advertising a Werkbund exhibition on contemporary architecture (estimate: $10,000 to $15,000); Johannes Molzahn’s Wohnung Und Werkraum, 1929 ($8,000 to $12,000); Max Burchartz’s photomontage Internationale Ausstellung / Kunst Der Werbung, 1931 ($10,000 to $15,000); Max Bill’s design for modernist Swiss furniture company Wohnbedarf, 1932 ($10,000 to $15,000); several examples by Herbert Bayer, such as posters for Ausstellung München / Das Bayerische Handwerk, 1927 and 50 Jahre Bauhaus, 1968 ($800 to $1,200 each) and designs by Johannes Molzahn, Oskar Schlemmer, Joost Schmidt and others.

A host of wonderful Russian images from the 1920s and 1930s, features Natalia Gontcharova’s Grand Bal De Nuit / Salle Bullier Grand Bal Des Artistes, the annual ball held by the emigrant Russian artistic community in Montparnasse, 1926 ($8,000 to $12,000).

Croatian designer Boris Bucan is well represented, with more than eight multi-sheet billboard images from the 1980s, such as 12. Salon Mladih Umjetnicki Paviljon U Zagrebu, 1980; 100 Godina Obrtne Škole / Škole Primijenjene Umjetnosti, 1982; and Monvi ($1,000 to $1,500 each).

From the same era comes the work of contemporary Brazilian artist Almir Mavignier, which is offered in group lots estimated at $700 to $1,000 each; as well as posters by the singular Japanese designer Kazumasa Nagai, including an exhibition poster, Exhibition / "World Of Kasumasa Nagai," 1980 ($1,500 to $2,000). 

Additional exhibition posters of note include Andy Warhol / Leo Castelli, 1964; Andy Warhol Druckgrafik / Kunstladen München, circa 1970; two signed by Larry Rivers for exhibitions at the Hirschhorn Museum, 1974 and 1981; and a pair of posters for Roy Lichtenstein shows, 1965-67.

In the style of Lichtenstein—and employing his signature ben-day dots—is Blaise Bron’s proto-Pop masterpiece Mobiloil, 1952, which actually predates Lichtenstein’s first Pop Art creations by nearly 10 years ($10,000 to $15,000).

Japanese tour-de-force Tadanori Yokoo, who is credited as the artist who introduced Pop Art to Japan, is represented by a 1965 exhibition poster, Having Reached A Climax At The Age Of 29, I Was Dead ($20,000 to $30,000).


Also commanding top dollar are Art Décor masterpieces by A.M. Cassandre, including Triplex, 1931, a nearly monochromatic poster for safety glass ($20,000 to $30,000); Charles Loupot’s paint company poster Valentine, 1929 ($15,000 to $20,000); Pierre Fix-Masseau’s Exactitude, 1932 ($12,000 to $18,000) and Edward Mcknight Kauffer’s Power / The Nerve Centre of London's Underground, 1931 ($12,000 to $18,000).

There are also Art Deco highlights by Italians Marcello Nizzoli and Umberto di Lazzaro and psychedelic designs promoting everything from Levi’s to Chrysler and Air India.

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 7. The posters will be on public exhibition at Swann Galleries Saturday, May 2, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, May 4 through Wednesday, May 6, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday, May 7, 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 www.swanngalleries.com.

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 posters@swanngalleries.com.

Live online bidding is available via Invaluable. Click on the Invaluable link on the www.swanngalleries.com homepage.

First image: Max Bill, Wohnbedarf, 1932. Estimate: $10,000 to $15,000).

Second image: A.M. Cassandre, Triplex, 1931. Estimate: $20,000 to $30,000).

Auction Guide