Photomontage in Graphic Design

Our Vintage Posters department has expanded and renamed their annual Modernist Posters sale. Now called Graphic Design, this auction features posters and ephemera that highlight the shifting trends in imagery and typography styles starting in the late 1800s and moving through the 20th-century. One technique adopted by poster artists just after WWI was photomontage. Several of the posters in this auction are excellent examples of designers combining this technique with others to create dramatic, visually arresting images. 

 

Lester Beall, Here It Comes / Rural Electrification Administration

Lot 163: Lester Beall, Here It Comes / Rural Electrification Administration, 1939. Estimate $15,000 to $20,000.

 

American designer Lester Beall was inspired by the work of European avant-garde artists. Beall used primary colors and clean, simple typography to achieve effective visual communication. Several of his posters, like Here It Comes / Rural Electrification Administration, 1939, utilize techniques like photomontage while others, like his 1937 poster for the same organization, focus on clean lines and basic shapes to convey information.

 

Jan Tschichold, Der Berufsphotograph, 1938.

Lot 63: Jan Tschichold, Der Berufsphotograph, 1938. Estimate $12,000 to $18,000.

 

Beall was one of the first American designers to incorporate tactics from the New Typography movement, which rejected the traditional ideas of informational arrangement and allowed designers and artists to focus on the poster as a blank field on which to compose, much like a canvas. German designer and typographer Jan Tschichold was one of the fathers of this movement, and his 1938 poster Der Berufsphotograph, advertising The Professional Photographer exhibition in Basel, uses a photographic negative to catch the viewers attention and allude to the technical aspects of photography.

 

Verlangen Sie Kodak Film Für Lebenswahre Fotos, by an unknown designer.

Lot 66: Verlangen Sie Kodak Film Für Lebenswahre Fotos, by an unknown designer. Estimate $800 to $1,200.

 

The sale also includes a small selection of Kodak posters. Among them are Verlangen Sie Kodak Film Für Lebenswahre Fotos by an unknown designer, featuring a cheerful young woman and her dog; and R. Queinnec’s Kodak / Brownie Flash, circa 1950s, advertising a variant of the American Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash manufactured in France.

 

R. Queinnec, Kodak / Brownie Flash, circa 1950s

Lot 65: R. Queinnec, Kodak / Brownie Flash, circa 1950s. Estimate $600 to $900.

 

Other lots that feature photomontage techniques include two works printed by Paul Martial, both titled [O.T.U.A.], silver print photomontages, circa 1930. Jean Carlu’s moving Pour le Désarmement des Nations, 1932, is the first poster the artist produced for the Office de Propagande Pour la Paix in Paris. Carlu was also one of the first artists to use and fight for the use of photographs in posters. 

 

Jean Carlu, Pour Le Désarmement Des Nations, 1932.

Lot 69: Jean Carlu, Pour Le Désarmement Des Nations, 1932. Estimate $3,000 to $4,000.

 

For a look at more posters and ephemera featuring photomontage and a wide range of other graphic design techniques, take a look at our complete catalogue