The Presence of the Past—
A Sale of Rarely Seen Posters
by Roland Arkell
YORK, N.Y. –– Poster Auctions
International, Inc. (PAI) auctioned a collection of over 50 rare,
original propaganda posters on Sunday, October 28, as part of the firm’s
Rare Poster Auction #76. The collection included posters from World Wars
I and II, the inter-war period, the beginnings of the Cold War, the
Cuban Revolution and more.
The sale, held online at posterauctions.com, and in the PAI Gallery in
lower Manhattan, featured 475 lots, including lithographs, maquettes,
oil paintings and illustrations, plus rare books, with item estimates
ranging from $500 to $350,000.
Lots included works of iconic giants such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec,
A. M. Cassandre, Alphonse Mucha, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, H. R. Hopps,
James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy, Jules Cheret, Leonetto
Cappiello, El Lissitzky, Theophile Steinlen and Yokoo. Most of the
posters and maquettes came from the Belle Epoque and Art Deco periods.
Posters dealt with issues of a century ago.
art is transitory and is meant primarily for impact in the instant of
eyeballing. This is why original poster art is so important and why this
collection was so interesting to “affichomaniacs,” as poster enthusiasts
are called, but also to anyone working at the intersection of media,
culture and society.
The propaganda collection included multiple famous works by James
Montgomery Flagg (I Want You for U.S. Army) and Howard Chandler Christy
(Gee! I Wish I Were a Man), the two most prominent American posterists
of the First World War. The entire collection, though, went far beyond
Posters in the collection showcased the dialogue between the competing
socialist parties of post-WWI Europe, the sparking and inflaming of
anti-Semitic sentiment during the inter-war period, the various modes of
American propaganda, post-WWI humanitarian outreach, propaganda in Vichy
France, and exceptionally rare work by Fidel Castro’s chief propaganda
from the auction included Toulouse-Lautrec’s first poster, the 1891
Moulin Rouge/La Goulue, which established the artist’s worldwide fame,
estimated to sell for . $300,000-$350,000), plus numerous other famous
and rare Lautrecs, including Le Jockey (est. $40,000-$50,000); P. Sescau
/ Photographe ($60,000-$70,000) and L’Anglais au Moulin Rouge, rarely
seen at auction (est. $100,000-$120,000).
From A. M. Cassandre came four separate prints of his world-famous Art
Deco triumph, Normandie – all from the opulent oceanliner’s inaugural
cruise year of 1935, with slightly different text variants. It’s the
first time all four 1935 lithographs were offered simultaneously (est.
Thirty posters, decorative panels, maquettes and other material by
Alphonse Mucha came up for bid, including special printings of the 1897
and 1900 The Seasons set (est. $10,000-$40,000);
and the finest specimen of the 1897 Monaco-Monte-Carlo PAI has ever seen
(est. $17,000-$20,000). Also sold was a superb lithograph of Bernhardt’s
Lorenzaccio (est. $14,000-$17,000).
Twenty-three posters, rare books and unique items from the Russian
Avant-Garde – including Lissitzky’s Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge
(est. $3,500-$4,000) and Victory Over the Sun: Anxious People (est.
$17,000-$20,000)—conveniently coincided with a major exhibition on the
period now on view at New York’s Jewish Museum.
Eighteen works by Chéret, including three variants of Palais de Glace
(est. $1,000-$5,000) and three original studies, two in pastel, and one
oil painting (est. $10,000-$20,000) came under the gavel; while 27
posters and maquettes by Cappiello, including famous works such as the
Maurin Quina (est. $2,000-$2,5000) and
(est. $3,000-$10,000) plus magnificent rarities like the 1927 Sizaire
(est. $8,000-$10,000) will also be on offer.
Steinlen’s iconic Chat Noir (est. $6,000-$8,000) and the rare Motocycles
Comiot (est. $20,000-$25,000) were also included in the sale, as were
unusual items, such as an 18th-century, pre-French Revolution poster for
the French Guard ($2,000-$2,500); and posters by Haring (est.
$1,000-$2,000), Warhol (est. $30,000-$35,000) and Yokoo (est.
Also in the auction are rare and important propaganda posters from World
War I to the Cuban Revolution, to include multiple lithographs by Flagg,
Christy, Biró, and Rivadulla (Destroy this Mad Brute, Des Libérateurs,
aka The Red Poster, and others); and a rarely seen 1925 maquette for
singer-dancer Josephine Baker, by Colin (est. $10,000-$12,000).
For more information, please visit http://www.rennertsgallery.com/ and
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