Seldom-offered propaganda posters at auction

A collection of more than 50 rare, original propaganda posters will be auctioned on Sunday, Oct. 28, by Poster Auctions International.
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90. I Want You for U.S. Army, 1917. James Montgomery Flagg, $6,000-$8,000

90. I Want You for U.S. Army, 1917. James Montgomery Flagg, $6,000-$8,000

NEW YORK – A collection of more than 50 rare, original propaganda posters will be auctioned on Sunday, Oct. 28, by Poster Auctions International, Inc. (PAI), as part of the firm’s Rare Poster Auction #76. The collection includes World Wars I and II, the inter-war period, the beginnings of the Cold War, the Cuban Revolution and more.

The sale overall will feature 475 lots, to include lithographs, maquettes, oil paintings and illustrations, plus rare books, with item estimates ranging from $500 to $350,000 – a wide range catering to all level of collector, from the beginner to the seasoned veteran.

The sale will be held online, at posterauctions.com, and in the gallery, at 11 a.m. Eastern. The PAI gallery is located at 26 West 17th Street in New York City, in lower Manhattan.

Artists in the catalog will be instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with the genre – iconic giants such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, A.M. Cassandre, Alphonse Mucha, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, H.R. Hopps, James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy, Jules Cheret, Leonetto Cappiello, El Lissitzky, Theophile Steinlen and Yokoo. Most of the posters and maquettes will be from the Belle Epoque and Art Deco periods.

About the collection of propaganda posters

“The propaganda poster collection is of great importance,” said Jack Rennert, president of Poster Auctions International, Inc. “The issues we’re dealing with today, as a society, are little different from those of a century ago – conflicts over gender roles, economic inequality, rapid political change, ethnic violence and anti-Semitism among them.”

71. Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, circa 1950. El Lissitzky, $3,500-$4,000. Photo courtesy Poster Auctions International

71. Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, circa 1950. El Lissitzky, $3,500-$4,000.Photo courtesy Poster Auctions International

Rennert added, “They are all inflamed by ‘fake news,’ incendiary memes, troll hordes and bots – the direct legacy of propaganda messaging pioneered a century ago. The public appreciates history, such as it does, in terms of battles, elections, social movements, and world leaders. The historical role of media is less of a consideration.”

In part, he said, that’s because it’s transitory, of the moment, meant primarily for impact in the instant of eyeballing. “That constitutes a fundamental gap in our cultural memory, and in the historical record,” he said. “It’s why original poster art is so important and why this collection is of the utmost interest, not just to “affichomaniacs,” as poster enthusiasts are called, but also to anyone working at the intersection of media, culture and society.”

The propaganda collection includes multiple famous works by James Montgomery Flagg (e.g. I Want You for U.S. Army) and Howard Chandler Christy (e.g. Gee! I Wish I Were a Man), the two most prominent American posterists of the First World War. The entire collection, though, delves far beyond that. When browsing the catalog, bidders will see:

  • the dialogue between the competing socialist parties of post-WWI Europe;
  • the sparking and inflaming of anti-Semitic sentiment during the inter-war period;
  • the various modes of American propaganda;
  • post-WWI humanitarian outreach;
  • propaganda in Vichy France; and
  • rare work by Fidel Castro’s chief propaganda artist.

Highlights from the auction overall include Toulouse-Lautrec’s first poster, the 1891 Moulin Rouge/La Goulue, which established the artist’s worldwide fame ($300,000-$350,000); plus numerous other famous and rare Lautrecs, including Le Jockey ($40,000-$50,000); P. Sescau / Photographe ($60,000-$70,000) and L’Anglais au Moulin Rouge, rarely seen at auction ($100,000-$120,000).

For more information, visit www.rennertsgallery.com/ andwww.rennertsgallery.com/propaganda-lxxvi-rare-posters/.

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