OF ALL the ways in which artists portray Switzerland, by far my favorite interpretation is through poster art, and my heart really belongs to vintage depictions of Swiss winter pastimes in all their 20th-century glory.
Again this year (as last) I’ll be taking in the sales exhibition of vintage wintersport poster art that opens today, Wednesday, 3 February at noon at Galerie Un Deux Trois, located in Geneva’s Eaux Vives suburb. The public is also invited to the vernissage tonight at 5pm.
Early gems of poster art
The Galerie is the only dealer in Switzerland and — after 38 years in business — the oldest in Europe, to trade in the collection, restoration and sale of vintage poster art.
There are over 15,000 posters in the collection of owner and renowned vintage-poster expert Jean-Daniel Clerc, some of which date back to the late 1880s and include gems by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Alphonse Mucha.
During its exhibition, entitled “Winter Delights”, the Galerie will display some outstanding examples from its collection of over 200 vintage wintersport posters that depict Alpine sports (skiing, bobsledding, skating), associated pastimes (eating, drinking, photography), and affiliated products and industries (hotels, rail and air travel, ski equipment and clothing).
Fun in the winter sun for everyone
In addition to more adult subjects, children, snowmen, nature scenes and animals including dogs, foxes, horses and hares also feature prominently in winter-themed vintage posters, usually with a mischievous perspective.
The popularity of winter sports, and all that came with them, exploded with the rapid growth of the middle class. The average person joined their more affluent contemporaries on slopes and ice rinks, making Switzerland, Austria, and other Alpine nations famous as winter playgrounds.
Vintage posters as historical documents
The posters chronicle the development of wintertime sports, but also reflect changing artistic styles (from Art Nouveau to Abstract; from muted tones to eye-popping colour) and printing techniques (stone lithography, offset, heliography, and serigraphy).
We get a glimpse of a rapidly changing world through their depictions of culture, society, fashion, products and services, and the marketing smarts behind their creation. There’s just so much to love about them.
Placing an order
The staff of Galerie Un Deux Trois are knowledgeable and helpful, so feel free to stop by to take in these exceptional posters and leaf through the poster catalogues. Of course, they’ll be happy to quote you a price (most are listed online and in the catalogues) if one really catches your eye.
If you see something over the internet and would like to place an order, the galerie requests you do so by telephone or in person at the gallerie as emails are not prioritized.
A gift or souvenir idea
To coincide with the exhibition, the Galerie is selling Affiches de Sports d’Hiver, vol. 6, an impressive hardcover book with 228 vintage posters, many of them in the Galerie’s own collection. Curated by Jean-Daniel Clerc and Jean-Charles Giroud the book costs CHF 99.- It could make for a memorable gift or souvenir of your stay in Switzerland.
Galerie Un Deux Trois is located at 4, Rue des Eaux Vives, 1207 Geneva, near Place des Eaux-Vives. Tel: +41 22 786 1611, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website.
Main photo caption: (Left) Villars-Bretaye, 1925 and (Right) Chamonix-Mont Blanc, 1924.
All images courtesy of Galerie Un Deux Trois.