This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.
For some 40 years, Poster Auctions International has been holding auctions at Rennert’s Gallery in New York City for their collection of rare vintage posters. This collection spans art noveau, art deco, and modern pieces of poster art. Each auction is accompanied by a beautifully crafted auction book, with a hardbound cover and glossy color pages featuring images and details about available posters.
Poster collecting emerged as a popular and expensive endeavor sometime in the 1960s and 1970s, with focus being placed on the work of a handful of 19th century French artists such as Lautrec, Alphonse Mucha, and Jules Cheret. As the market and demand for posters has expanded, new collector categories have developed: Mid-Century Modern reflected in post-WWII designs, war propaganda posters from the first half of the 20th century, and travel posters from around the world. Along with those in the Art Nouveau style, war propaganda posters are particularly popular. During the First World War, the United States produced some 2,500 poster designs, with 20 million posters printed, in the span of two years. The power of the poster was recognized and reimagined by the Bolsheviks, and became a staple of war efforts around the world. Other poster styles evolved throughout the 20th century, including Art Deco influenced by the sleek aesthetic of the jazz age, the ‘50s Style using whimsicle design to appeal to broad audiences, and International Typographic Style (or Swiss Style) which was highly structured, orderly, and corporate. Read more about the history of the poster here.
Many of the posters crafted between 1880 and 1930 were printed through a method called lithography, which was replaced by photo offset and silkscreen processes after the Second World War. Printing processes can account for the value of certain posters, along with their connection to the original artist, the popularity of said artist, the subject depicted, along with the rarity and condition of the poster itself. The auctions held by Poster Auctions International include posters from nearly all of the eras discussed here. The auction and Rennert’s Gallery are a staple of New York City, demonstrated by an auction they held two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks where proceeds went to benefit the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
To learn more, poster catalogs published by Poster Auctions International can be found in the Fine Arts Library collection.
Thanks to Irina Rogova, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.