The term, “small-format,” tends, it seems, to be a non-starter in the graphic art field, where large-scale poster designs are the beginning and end of the experience. Today (and in several other blogs to come) we’ll try to make the case that a goldmine is there for the taking. 

   Starting small (size-wise) is not only a great introduction to building a quality collection, but also develops one’s curiosity to learn more about the design, the artist, the historical context, etc. Many buyers can and do find very thoughtful gifts to honor a special occasion for themself or a loved one…and most are priced between $25-$250 (Average $100).

With those who can’t see anything small except their phone and those who need to impress others, it remains an uphill climb. But here we go, for the sake of nano surprises!

Streamline to the max, in our first offering! But also the dispensation of colors, tones and composition. Understatement being a way of life!

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Art Deco Posters&Graphics, Art Nouveau/Belle Époque Posters&Graphics, Illustration Art, Illustrators, Modernist Posters&Graphics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



One of the most striking confirmations of the wide-spread spirit of radical innovation in early-twentieth-century Europe is an endeavor seldom, if ever, noticed. While the Communist Manifesto cascaded from strengths to strength in those days, a far more trenchant enterprise garnered few takers. The little cadre of Parisian fashion illustrators in the hand-colored (pochoir) field–producing vignettes whereby new clothing styles could shine–proved to have much more than expensive finery in their outlook.

Working from a point of departure of fabulous wealth and exclusivity, those dandies who participated in sealing the deals would rather frequently devise scenes bristling with frissons taking the princesses into mountain-top-like spaces where they would be, in addition to Easy Street, at death’s door. That seeming path to prompt dismissal proved, in fact, extremely popular with those birds in gilded cages who were experts in malaise and were emboldened to see themselves (while spending oodles of their husbands money) as participating in a (passive) rebellion.

The streamline style of the works in the pochoirs would speak to them as sensual equipment for a war that would be confined to mansions. But for those of us encountering those transactions long after the principals had died, these seemingly quixotic struggles touch us as marvellously current precursors to the cheeky but tepid photographic vamping in the glossy promotions of today.

Our first pochoir is a classic of facing an abyss (the two window panels evoking contradictory ways of sensibility, with the lady on the spot to deliver a forward momentum including both chutes.

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Art Deco Posters&Graphics, Illustration Art, Illustrators, Poster&Graphic Art, Poster&Graphic Artists | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment


Years ago we acquired a splendid portfolio of pre-World-War-I German lithographic vintage posters in small-format. As if that were not enough, the publication, with Germanic thoroughness, included a booklet describing and including examples of postage-stamp supplements in the form of advertisements for publishers specializing in the production of glorious lithographic “Plakate” (posters): Reklamemarken; Karl J. Galandauer; Leipzig ; 13 pp.; 21 stamps

That latter phenomenon, which we are disclosing for the first time here, not only instills in us a surge of joy from the wit and beauty of the works, but also a surge of melancholy to realize the lives about to be shattered there. Although many such enterprises were in effect in many lands during the first few decades of the twentieth century, the deposit we present here is remarkable for the quality of the designs and for its depths of coverage.

The image on the cover which we see first seems to coincide with the bellicose mood ready to explode with the assassination at Sarajevo.

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Art Deco Posters&Graphics, Illustration Art, Illustrators, Poster&Graphic Art | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment



To say that a priority of flashy sensations is in the air these days is not telling you anything you don’t already know. A recent and generally decried Nicolas Refn film, The Neon Demon (2016), tackles the rabid self-assertion flooding through millennial actions. Here, though, we want to look at earlier periods marked by overconfident and cynical forces as coming forth by way of vintage poster art. And particularly we’re on the lookout–as was Refn–for strengths in the heart of such weakness.

The advent of somewhat crazy self-satisfaction in lithographic promotions involved a critical mass of bohemians in the 1890s and onward to the beginning of World War I, centered in the Montmartre district of Paris, who had dovetailed with and catalyzed a robust skeptical and secular spirit found in so many Parisians, to the effect that they were well advanced in audacity, lucidity and joie de vivre. The so-called Belle Epoque era would be celebrated in poster art, to crown products and services with the magic of the modern.

Our first vintage design here fittingly emerges from the very heart of the mystique of Paris as the wellspring of artistic innovation and superiority. The offspring of an avant-garde literary publication, the Salon des Cents comprised a group of Parisian posterists who maintained that poster and illustration art could rise beyond “fine art” inasmuch as it spoke with great authority to the “man in the street” whose instincts (the movement believed) responded to a visceral dimension both powerful and never, till then, coming to bear. From another perspective, this insurgency could be called “Surrealism”–a devotion to life-changing sensation.   Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Art Deco Posters&Graphics, Art Nouveau/Belle Époque Posters&Graphics, Avant-Garde Posters&Graphics, Modernist Posters&Graphics, Poster&Graphic Art, Poster&Graphic Artists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


When you consider the must-haves for a major city, what do you think of? Whatever the choice, I doubt it comes up impromptu constructions from out of a rather remote landfill! But this past week we were awakened by precisely such a phenomenon. Here we go, then, to make some sense of this state of affairs.

Every large city has its generous patrons of the arts, be they individuals or corporations. Disinterestedness is far from the minds of most of them. They are, nevertheless, a crucial factor of plays, ballets and classical music ever being seen and heard. And they furnish much of the art in the art museums. The upshot of such sponsorship is an array of stimulating bids on the part of those having reflective and craft distinction.

This is all well and good, of course; and with public life ever more savage and shallow, it can’t be taken lightly. And also, for busy city dwellers, those gifts inhabiting fine edifices exert a much-needed balance for those who feel the need to be more than technically and domestically effective.

There are, moreover, those who, by instinct and education, have little trouble looking beyond practical solicitude. What such folks not merely like, but crave, is a wider display of craft and innovation—more in the sense of a holistic rather than incidental jolt. That one, or very likely, several builders, have erected expressions of mysterious creativity on a remote Toronto coastline (an ongoing landfill only open to the public on weekends) carries exponentially more energy than an official (“site-specific”) arts sculpture. To realize that there are others out there presenting design considerations in total anonymity and as completely detached from monetary motives ushers us into a most unique and cogent range of action.

Our photos might help establish more clarity about the difference in play.

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Current Events, Industrial Design | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment



One of our most lasting memories from European travels was the special care given to food, and lingering over a meal. The French phrase, “A table!” [dinner ‘s ready], is like a fanfare for an exciting show and discovery.

There are many instances of these phenomena in our collection of vintage graphic art. They range from disclosing the pure delight of the fruits of the land to the vast possibilities of enjoying a meal.

Our first example spans riches of the countryside and presentation of a rustic meal. The genius of producing amazing olive oil and its endowment  to so many menus is characteristic of simple and brilliant fare from the land.   Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Art Deco Posters&Graphics, Art Nouveau/Belle Époque Posters&Graphics, Modernist Posters&Graphics, Poster&Graphic Art, Poster&Graphic Artists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


The first illustrated volume of the prose selections, of the complete works of de Musset (1949), consists of the writer’s rebellion-flourish, Confession of a Child of the Century. Accordingly, the text has evoked from our graphic designer some blue-chip nudes and other demonstrations that to be new is to be outrageous.

We won’t argue here about the validity of such a gesture; but we will maintain that the visual output, for the sake of an era undergoing stresses far beyond Age of Enlightenment frivolity, can be well captured in its dignity by the narrative range of Brunelleschi’s designs.

The first vignette seems very tame by 21st century reckoning; but it covers (dubiously, perhaps) stairways to the stars while still rooted in instinctive poise.

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Art Deco Posters&Graphics, Illustration Art, Illustrators | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


Many would say that a bird in a cage is a diminished and unhappy bird. They’ve never carefully watched a canary in a cage.

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Current Events | Tagged | 1 Comment


You will discover that, whereas with the first instalment (as to poetry) of our review of the Brunelleschi-illustrated full output of Alfred de Musset’s writings (1949), the key is of erotic fantasy, with the 3-volume theatre works the priority has shifted to a more mainstream motive.

Our first instance here of Brunelleschi’s remarkable range, as capturing subtle mood, takes us to a melancholy moment of the play, “A Caprice,” where the tone has, accordingly, undergone a rapid change.

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Art Deco Posters&Graphics, Illustration Art, Illustrators | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


In 1995 we trained down from Paris to Versailles early one Sunday morning. There was a market of antiquities, but very few items for us. Almost in desperation about the slim pickings, we did notice and buy a 12-volume, stunning rendition of the complete poems, novels and plays of Alfred de Musset (1810-1857), illustrated, in pochoir style, by that deco dazzler, Umberto Brunelleschi (1879-1949), and published in 1949.  This was to be Brunelleschi’s swan song; and de Musset’s career steered a course straight to doom, as befits a Romantic-era notable. But this glowing paper product has much more than that to contribute.

The first episode will pertain to the three (of four—one being sold) poetry volumes, which, like the whole collection, takes as its watchword the title of one of his novels, namely, Confessions of a Child of the Century. Our strategy for presenting this treasure of vintage graphic design will be to note features of the “Confessions” as linked to a glowing pochoir. The opening vision ushers in a poetic dialogue touching upon a “Spanish Chestnut.”

Continue reading

Share Button
Posted in Art Deco Posters&Graphics, Illustration Art, Illustrators | Tagged , , | Leave a comment