Machine Age Style: Art Deco Poster Masterpieces 1925 - 1939

We are proud to announce The Machine Age Style: Art Deco Poster Masterpieces, a retrospective exhibition and sale of over 40 works from 1925 to 1939. The exhibition takes place in our gallery in SoWA and features many seminal works including a fine group of A.M. Cassandre’s posters.

 


Shop Our Exhibition


 

Machine Age Style: Art Deco Poster Masterpieces 1925 - 1939

We are proud to announce The Machine Age Style: Art Deco Poster Masterpieces, a retrospective exhibition and sale of over 40 works from 1925 to 1939. The exhibition takes place in our gallery in SoWA and features many seminal works including a fine group of A.M. Cassandre’s posters.

 


Shop Our Exhibition


 

The Rise of Art Deco

After World War I, the floral opulence of Art Nouveau was replaced by the desire for a streamlined aesthetic celebrating modernity and simplicity. Art Deco captured the speed, energy, and systematic elegance of the exciting new era and remained the primary international decorative movement until World War II

 

Art Deco was influenced by a diverse array of styles and eras. Borrowing from bold avant-garde art movements such as Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, and Constructivism, Art Deco was able to express dynamism and power. At the same time, the style harkened back to the decorative, geometric design themes prevalent in ancient Egypt, Assyria, and Persia. Art Deco also took cues from the German Plakatstil, the Viennese Secession, the Deutscher Werkbund, and the Parisian fashion design revolution, resulting in a simplified, streamlined, and angular style.

 

The 1925 Parisian Exposition des Arts Decoratifs - the exposition responsible for Art Deco's name - marked a turning point for the style. Noted for its soft elegance and exoticism up until that point as seen in Bonfil’s exhibition poster, Art Deco developed into a more muscular and forceful style by the late 1920s and 1930s that was dubbed the Machine Age Style

The Rise of Art Deco

After World War I, the floral opulence of Art Nouveau was replaced by the desire for a streamlined aesthetic celebrating modernity and simplicity. Art Deco captured the speed, energy, and systematic elegance of the exciting new era and remained the primary international decorative movement until World War II

 

Art Deco was influenced by a diverse array of styles and eras. Borrowing from bold avant-garde art movements such as Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, and Constructivism, Art Deco was able to express dynamism and power. At the same time, the style harkened back to the decorative, geometric design themes prevalent in ancient Egypt, Assyria, and Persia. Art Deco also took cues from the German Plakatstil, the Viennese Secession, the Deutscher Werkbund, and the Parisian fashion design revolution, resulting in a simplified, streamlined, and angular style.

 

The 1925 Parisian Exposition des Arts Decoratifs - the exposition responsible for Art Deco's name - marked a turning point for the style. Noted for its soft elegance and exoticism up until that point as seen in Bonfil’s exhibition poster, Art Deco developed into a more muscular and forceful style by the late 1920s and 1930s that was dubbed the Machine Age Style

A.M. Cassandre

In 1923, the first signs of the mature phase of Art Deco became visible when a precocious 22 year-old art student and part-time printing firm assistant was given his first major assignment. The design was a gigantic subway station ad for a furniture store that was so explosively dynamic that it caused a sensation. After a string of successes featuring sleek designs of towering ships and speeding trains, it became apparent that A.M. Cassandre was the father of a new, Machine Age poster style that would dominate from 1927 to 1939.

 

Strongly influenced by the technology of the era and his thorough assimilation of modern art, Cassandre's work shocked the public with its ingenious and dynamic compositions, abstract geometry, and typography seamlessly woven into the core of the design. Suddenly, the illustration-based caricatures of Cappiello looked dated next to Cassandre's cerebral and sleek designs of modern day wonders. 

 

The exhibition includes several of Cassandre’s best and most interesting posters. The first is a lesser known poster for a sea freight company called SAGA from 1926. This poster marked the beginning of Cassandre’s mature phase, in which he firmly developed the modernistic devices that he would employ in his work and consistently began to deliver designs that would transform the field for roughly a decade.

 

The 1929 Chemin de Fer du Nord suggested a journey by merely combining a compass facing due north and rail lines extending to infinity - a graphic shorthand which illustrates Cassandre's axiom that a poster should communicate like a telegram. His rare and unique Wagon-Bar poster of 1931 promoting a club car on a luxury train utilizes a cubist photo montage still-life akin to Picasso and Braque that evokes the serenity and timelessness of enjoying a cocktail enroute. A fourth classic is Cassandre’s Normandie (1935), a surrealistic tour-de-force that is perhaps the most famous poster of all time, which does full justice to the majesty of the world’s most advanced ocean liner.  

A.M. Cassandre

In 1923, the first signs of the mature phase of Art Deco became visible when a precocious 22 year-old art student and part-time printing firm assistant was given his first major assignment. The design was a gigantic subway station ad for a furniture store that was so explosively dynamic that it caused a sensation. After a string of successes featuring sleek designs of towering ships and speeding trains, it became apparent that A.M. Cassandre was the father of a new, Machine Age poster style that would dominate from 1927 to 1939.

 

Strongly influenced by the technology of the era and his thorough assimilation of modern art, Cassandre's work shocked the public with its ingenious and dynamic compositions, abstract geometry, and typography seamlessly woven into the core of the design. Suddenly, the illustration-based caricatures of Cappiello looked dated next to Cassandre's cerebral and sleek designs of modern day wonders. 

 

The exhibition includes several of Cassandre’s best and most interesting posters. The first is a lesser known poster for a sea freight company called SAGA from 1926. This poster marked the beginning of Cassandre’s mature phase, in which he firmly developed the modernistic devices that he would employ in his work and consistently began to deliver designs that would transform the field for roughly a decade.

 

The 1929 Chemin de Fer du Nord suggested a journey by merely combining a compass facing due north and rail lines extending to infinity - a graphic shorthand which illustrates Cassandre's axiom that a poster should communicate like a telegram. His rare and unique Wagon-Bar poster of 1931 promoting a club car on a luxury train utilizes a cubist photo montage still-life akin to Picasso and Braque that evokes the serenity and timelessness of enjoying a cocktail enroute. A fourth classic is Cassandre’s Normandie (1935), a surrealistic tour-de-force that is perhaps the most famous poster of all time, which does full justice to the majesty of the world’s most advanced ocean liner.  

The Machine Age Poster Around the World

Cassandre's influence was widespread not only in France but abroad - so much so that the Museum of Modern Art in New York recognized Cassandre's preeminence in a rare, one-man poster show in 1936. His disciples included Herbert Matter of Switzerland, and Pierre Fix-Masseau of France, who both worked with the master as young men, and are represented in the show.

 

His international influence is strongly reflected in the exhibition. Italy is represented by Federico Seneca, whose Leger-like delivery boy races ahead with boxes of Perugina Chocolates. Willem Ten Broek shows the impact of Cassandre on the Dutch in his elegantly imposing Holland-Amerika Lijn, and Munich’s Walter Schnackenberg’s Palast Hotel - Tanz Bar, 1932 evokes the rhythm of Times Square and the Jazz Age. Great Britain is represented by Morden Extension, an anonymous London Underground poster that dynamically conveys the addition of a subway station, while the U.S. is represented by Leslie Ragan’s kinetic birds-eye view of Rockefeller Center and Sam Hyde Harris’s streamlined view of Southern Pacific’s Daylight train.

The Machine Age Poster Around the World

Cassandre's influence was widespread not only in France but abroad - so much so that the Museum of Modern Art in New York recognized Cassandre's preeminence in a rare, one-man poster show in 1936. His disciples included Herbert Matter of Switzerland, and Pierre Fix-Masseau of France, who both worked with the master as young men, and are represented in the show.

 

His international influence is strongly reflected in the exhibition. Italy is represented by Federico Seneca, whose Leger-like delivery boy races ahead with boxes of Perugina Chocolates. Willem Ten Broek shows the impact of Cassandre on the Dutch in his elegantly imposing Holland-Amerika Lijn, and Munich’s Walter Schnackenberg’s Palast Hotel - Tanz Bar, 1932 evokes the rhythm of Times Square and the Jazz Age. Great Britain is represented by Morden Extension, an anonymous London Underground poster that dynamically conveys the addition of a subway station, while the U.S. is represented by Leslie Ragan’s kinetic birds-eye view of Rockefeller Center and Sam Hyde Harris’s streamlined view of Southern Pacific’s Daylight train.

Themes

Transportation posters are surely the dominant theme of the show, a genre that was practically reinvented by Cassandre's explorations in the late Twenties and Thirties. Planes, trains, ocean liners, autos and cycles lent themselves to the Art Deco vocabulary. For example, the exhibition includes fine ocean liner posters by Giovanni PatroneLois Gaigg, and Bernd Steiner which naturally adopted the language of the new style.  

 

In an age that celebrated the beauty of purely functional objects, Machine Age style not surprisingly found its way into virtually all poster subjects, from sports and propaganda to travel, fashion, exhibitions, tobacco and other products, a number of which grace the show. The show is rounded out with two grand World’s Fair posters from the close of the era, Binder’s New York and Shawl, Nyeland and Seavey’s San Francisco from 1939.  Complete with many of Art Deco's key symbols - the ocean-liner, the skyscraper, the plane and zeppelin, the auto, and the bridge – the posters mark the triumphant end of the Machine Age poster era before WWII set in.

 


Shop Our Exhibition


 

Themes

Transportation posters are surely the dominant theme of the show, a genre that was practically reinvented by Cassandre's explorations in the late Twenties and Thirties. Planes, trains, ocean liners, autos and cycles lent themselves to the Art Deco vocabulary. For example, the exhibition includes fine ocean liner posters by Giovanni PatroneLois Gaigg, and Bernd Steiner which naturally adopted the language of the new style.  

 

In an age that celebrated the beauty of purely functional objects, Machine Age style not surprisingly found its way into virtually all poster subjects, from sports and propaganda to travel, fashion, exhibitions, tobacco and other products, a number of which grace the show. The show is rounded out with two grand World’s Fair posters from the close of the era, Binder’s New York and Shawl, Nyeland and Seavey’s San Francisco from 1939.  Complete with many of Art Deco's key symbols - the ocean-liner, the skyscraper, the plane and zeppelin, the auto, and the bridge – the posters mark the triumphant end of the Machine Age poster era before WWII set in.

 


Shop Our Exhibition