Original Vintage Posters &
Artworks by Le Corbusier
A classy presentation of Original Vintage Posters & the worldwide largest selection of lithographs and engravings by Le Corbusier – that’s PLACART. We can also offer unique works by LC.
Looking forward to your visit
Tomas Rabara | PLACART
Art! Commerce! Value paper!
Having become popular in Paris at the end of the 19th century, advertising posters soon after also seduced the passers-by in Switzerland with their bright colors and captivating compositons – a new form of art was born.
Each of the posters available at Placart is one of the rare copies of the respective circulation that has survived to this day. The great majority of the posters went missing as they were hung up in the streets. (Picture: Werdmühleplatz Zürich, 1913; source: Baugeschichtliches Archiv Stadt Zürich)
Le Corbusier’s essence cannot be caught without seeing also the painter in him – the art of modernism is his foundation. It is what he dedicates himself to every morning over decades. His development as an architect follows the one that he goes through as an artist.
I don't know much about fashion styles (if anything at all), but dating this Swissair poster to 1958 – which is pretty much the case everywhere – seems a bit daring to me. Or what do the fashionistas here think? Wouldn't ca. 1965 fit much better? If you look at the ski goggles, for instance...?
Either way: Given its charming cheerfulness it is a very popular design (not only among Swissair fans) which at the time promoted Swissair – and thus Switzerland itself – especially in North America.
It was created by graphic designer and ad pro René Bittel (1928-1996) from Valais, who worked in New York for Herb Lubalin before setting up his own agency and working from Geneva for an international clientele. The revival of Patek Philippe is considered his masterpiece. It may sound almost unbelievable today, given the prices and waiting lists for their watches, but in the mid-1980s the Geneva brand was close to its downfall. Bittel provided the company an ad concept and an identity – by designing the Calatrava ref. 3919, for example (which became kind of a face of the company), as well as all kinds of commercial art. He died shortly after the collaboration ended in 1996.
Offset, printed by Sigg Söhne, Winterthur; sheet size ca. 102x64 cm, A condition – available in the gallery and online
For today a bit of Switzerland’s economic history, told based on a six-part series of posters (“Poultry”, “Venison”, “Fish” etc.) which St. Galler Sebastian Oesch designs in 1914 for the opening of the St. Annahof at Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse.
Its beginnings go back to 1877 when the cooperatively organized Vegetable Association is formed in Zurich – because of the progress of industrialization women often start working in factories as well and no longer have the time to cultivate vegetables for family consumption. The Association wants to put an end to the increasing prices connected to intermediate trade: By buying directly from producers and waiting with the fine distribution until in the city. Only a year later it becomes the Food Association of Zurich which opens its first store in 1880 before becoming a producer itself to supply members with bread, meat and coffee from own production and even offer firewood, oil, and coal. In 1914 the diversification reaches a new peak when in St. Annahof, set up at best Zurich location, even household items and shoes are being offered.
In 1969 the Food Association Zurich is merged into Coop, after Migros Switzerland’s largest retail and wholesale company – though St. Annahof is still the most representative sales place of Coop (just a few corners further of PLACART, by the way…).
And Oesch? After an apprenticeship as an embroidery artist – back then there were not a great many other options in Eastern Switzerland if one wanted to pursue an artistic career – he stays in Berlin and Weimar throughout 1912/13 before working as a lithographer in Zurich. As he’s soon leaving for Algiers and further on Paris (where Amedeo Modigliani draws him) there is no time for him to design more than – at least as far as I know – only one more Poster. Following his return in 1916 for medical issues, he moves to Appenzell, where he devotes himself to its landscape and people. He dies in 1920 from the (Spanish) flu, not even having reached 27 years of age.
Lithographs, printed by Polygraphisches Institut, Zurich; sheet size ca. 102x72 cm each, A condition – available in the gallery
I don't really care much about Swiss posters created after ca. 1960: Even the last Swiss printers stopped making lithographs at the end of the 50s, photos began to oust everything else, and the print runs got higher and higher. But this poster: Wow – what an exception to the rule. A photo and issued 1971, yes, but how dynamic, how luminous. Do you feel the speed as well?, the piercing airstream...?
Photo by Fritz Weyrich (*1935, student and then lecturer at the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts), design by Publicité Weber & Sablonier (Lausanne)
Ante Uber: Original Poster by the Belgian Jules de Praetere (1879–1947), promoting in 1915 the new cars of Zurich’s Taxi (and moving) company Welti-Furrer (phone number 10 000, 24/7), using references to Ferdinand Hodler’s Parallelism and Ludwig Hohlwein – so circa ten years after he had laid the foundation for Graphic Design in Switzerland, because he becomes a pioneer in implementing the claim of Art Nouveau to bring together art and life (and thus the free and applied arts) when taking over the lead of the School of Arts and Crafts in Zurich in 1906.
He despises the academic didactics of its time, which consists of tracing templates and copying antiquity, and reforms the sterile training school for equally sterile pattern draughtsmen into a lively design school that seeks to catch up with developments in neighboring countries.
Alfred Altherr (sen.), his successor from 1913, is building upon de Praetere’s reforms (even when he states that the workshop, introduced by de Praetere, has moved too far in an artistic direction) and turns advertising art, which had hitherto been pursued rather as a sideline, in 1918 into the independent discipline of graphic arts.
In Basel, a similar specialist class was founded as early as 1915 – under (surprise, surprise) de Praetere who takes over the direction of this Kunstgewerbeschule in 1913.
Lithograph, printed by Fretz Bros., Zurich; A condition, ca. 125x88,5 cm – available in the gallery and online
"Merry Xmas" everywhere, even here at PLACART – but as I think it's nothing more than an empty phrase in most cases, let me try to give it some meaning, a little at least: By means of this poster – lovely, peaceful, hope-giving. Angels are always right!, right?
It was created by Otto Staiger from Basel (1894–1967) on the occasion of the Christmas exhibition 1952 at the Kunsthalle Basel. Staiger’s work was heavily influenced by his training as a glass painter from the very beginning. Clarity and simplicity of form and expression prevail throughout his art. Whereby clarity and simplicity (or, in other words, sincerity?) aren’t the worst guide – no matter if it’s Christmas or not, by the way.
Letterpress (linocut), A condition, ca. 128x90,5 cm – available in the gallery
Well, so towards the end of the year, here a kind of – let's call it – societal memento mori: A pretty unusual poster, issued in 1969 on the occasion of the premiere of Bertolt Brecht's "Turandot" at the Schauspielhaus Zurich. It quotes the "Ballad of the Emperor" from the play, which is quite suitable as an impetus to reflect a bit and practice humility.
Even if Brecht, in the very tradition of class struggle, was aiming at the ruling class, one can also see it less dogmatically, i.e.: Whoever wants to feel addressed may feel addressed.
And voilà thus the English translation:
„As things stand, we shouldn’t be complaining
Seems we could afford a little laugh
Those who take the strain on our behalf
Show every sign that they’ll continue straining.
All the years it’s been this way
No one ever shouted Ho!
But where precisely does it say
How it’s been it has to stay?
Just maybe, maybe
Things won’t always be just so.“