Records & Results: Vintage Posters

The three top lots in Swann Galleries’ April 24, 2014 auction each set new auction records in a sale marked by incredible results for esoteric images. 

Lot 1 was Bertold Löffler’s Kunstschau Wien. In 1908, Löffler participated in the art exhibition Kunstschau, organized under the leadership of Gustav Klimt. The large exhibition combined the work of Vienna’s Decorative Arts School, the Art School for Women and Girls and the Wiener Werkstätte. It was held in a building built specifically for the show by Josef Hoffmann and there was a room dedicated to Löffler’s poster art. He designed this poster advertising the exhibition–Oskar Kokoshka designed a different one–which is a masterful stepping stone between the heavy, often abstract ornamentation of the Vienna Secession and the cleaner, more linear designs of the Wiener Werkstätte. It sold for $52,500.

Lot 109 was a group of 10 Mexican anti-Nazi posters by various artists. In 1938, the Mexican print collective, Taller Grafica Popular (TGP) began working with Liga Pro-Cultura Aleman, formed by German exiles who fled the Nazi regime and were committed to fighting the spread of fascism and Nazism in Mexico. They organized lectures on German culture, art, music, literature and philosophy. In the fall of 1938, they held a series of weekly lectures at Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes to explain negative aspects of the Nazi regime. Artists of the TGP, such as Leopoldo Mendez, Jesus Escobedo, Pablo O’Higgins, Alfredo Zalce, Angel Bracho, Raul Anguiano and Francisco Dosamantes designed posters for each of the 18 lectures and, in a few instances, more than one for the same evening’s program. They are among the best and most powerful early anti-Nazi propaganda and are printed on very thin paper, so very few of have survived. The group sold for $45,000.

Lot 196 was from a run of elusive Warholiana–and a rare piece of American film history–a poster for Andy Warhol’s film My Hustler, which took on themes of homosexual obsession and aspects of gay life that were then new to the canon of American film, and was shot over an LSD-fueled Labor Day weekend on Fire Island. It is the story of an older man and his Dial-a-Hustler companion visiting the vacation destination outside of New York City. The film premiered in December 1965 at the Filmmakers’ Cinematheque, and this poster advertises a screening in the spring of the following year. It sold for $31,250.