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May 25th Auction of Graphic Design Including Modern Posters

On Thursday, May 25, Swann Galleries will hold an auction of Graphic Design, featuring a premier selection of posters, books and magazines by outstanding designers from around the world, including mid-century activism and American pop culture.  Early twentieth-century French posters lead the sale, with highlights ranging from A.M. Cassandre’s SS. “Côte d’Azur”, 1911, to Leonetto Cappiello’s Le Petit Dauphinois, 1933, an advertisement for one of the largest periodicals in the Alps at the time ($15,000 to $20,000 and $30,000 to $40,000, respectively). Also featured is Paul Colin’s complete portfolio Le Tumulte Noir, 1927, a tribute to Jazz-Age Paris and the craze for the Charleston, introduced by the actress Josephine Baker (who was also Colin’s lover). Two of the 42 original pochoir lithographs specifically depict Baker: one in a grass skirt, and one in her infamous banana skirt. The present copy, from the original edition of 500, includes the double cover and the rare insert bearing the French advisory “there is no advertising page in this album” ($25,000 to $35,000).  Col van Heusen, 1928, by Charles Loupot, one of the artist’s most elegant Cubist designs, which has only appeared once previously at auction, and his verdant Voisin Automobiles, 1923, are each expected to bring between $20,000 and $30,000.

Outstanding works from the Vienna Secession begin with Richardsquelle, 1899, an alluring banner by Koloman Moser promoting mineral water, estimated at $12,000 to $18,000. Two scarce publications on the period will be available: the only comprehensive book on the Golden Age of Austrian posters, Österreichische Plakatkunst, circa 1914, with 24 color plates, and the complete 12-volume set of Die Fläche, the design magazine by the Wiener Werkstätte, 1903-04 ($6,000 to $9,000 and $12,000 to $18,000, respectively).  In 1908, a Werkstätte exhibition organized by Gustav Klimt in conjunction with the Vienna’s School of Arts and Crafts and the Art School for Women and Girls was advertised by Bertold Löffler with the powerful poster Kunstschau Wien, valued at $30,000 to $40,000.

One year before his death, Egon Schiele designed a poster advertising Secession 49 / Asstellung, 1918, showing himself at the top of the table of exhibitors, with an empty seat opposite him representing Klimt, who died about a month before the opening ($15,000 to $20,000). German posters demonstrate the dramatic difference in design trends before and after WWI.  Ludwig Hohlwein’s delightful Besuchet den Tiergarten, 1912, advertising the opening of the new Munich Zoo in 1911 ($15,000 to $20,000) and Zoologischer Garten / Sommerfest, 1914, valued at $2,000 to $3,000, evidence the antebellum optimism of the country. Ten years later, an exhibition poster by Kurt Schwitters and Theo van Doesburg, Kleine Dada Soirée, 1922, advertising a tour to introduce other artists to Dadaism ($15,000 to $20,000), belies the devastation of war.

There is a strong selection of Soviet propaganda and Constructivist posters, with works by Mikhail Dlugach and Nikolai Dolgorukov, led by Gustav Klutsis’s dramatic photomontages The USSR is the Shock Brigade of the World’s Proletariat, 1931, and Long Live the Multimillion-Member Leninist Komsomol, 1932 ($10,000 to $15,000 and $8,000 to $12,000, respectively).

Mid-century American activism is on display, with wartime posters including dramatic images by Ben Shahn such as Break Reaction’s Grip / Register – Vote, circa 1946, and For All These Rights We’ve Just Begun to Fight / Register – Vote, 1946 ($2,000 to $3,000 and $1,500 to $2,000, respectively).  A convincing work incentive poster from 1942 by an unknown designer that reads, simply, More More More More More Production, is expected to bring between $1,500 and $2,000. A run of images by Thomas W. Benton decrying the Vietnam War incorporate Bob Dylan’s lyrics, including Vital Issues / Bob Dylan, 1969, and Aspen Humanities Seminar / Bob Dylan, 1969, each valued at $700 to $1,000.  Original gouache maquettes for 1970s posters responding to Cuba will be available, including End the U.S. Blockade Against Cuba, circa 1970s, by Peg Averill, and Karen Botten’s 1978 Cuba: Where Human Rights Are More Than A Privilege ($500 to $750 and $400 to $600, respectively).

A selection of 1966 posters promoting Andy Warhol’s creative output include a flyer for a screening of the film My Hustler ($7,000 to $10,000), as well as the exhibition Andy Warhol / Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, valued at $5,000 to $7,500.  Promotional materials designed by leading artists including Josef Albers, David Hockney, Jasper Johns and Frank Stella, will also be offered.

The auction will be held Thursday, May 25, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The auction preview will be open to the public Saturday, May 20, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, May 22, through Wednesday, May 24, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, May 25 from 10 a.m. to noon. For more information and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Nicholas D. Lowry at 212-254-4710, extension 57, or via e-mail at posters@swanngalleries.com.

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