A Century of Sports Posters
June 29 through September 5, 2005
Sport posters are featured in our 12th Annual Summer Poster Show, with a century of more than 100 original lithographs in all styles and price ranges. You'll find bicycling posters, tennis posters, boat and horse racing posters, Olympics posters, golf posters and much more!
Sports Poster History
Interestingly, spectator sports and the lithographic poster grew up together. Both were in their infancy in the 1890s, when Jules Cheret perfected the ?four stone" color lithographic process and sparked the poster craze of the Belle Epoque. Fittingly, the show opens with early examples both populist and upper crust: three wonderful baseball posters dating from 1905 by America's premier lithographer, Strobridge Litho of Cincinnati, and a day at the races in Italy featuring a beautiful woman in Sunday finery beneath a parasol.
The 1890s also ushered in the rise of participant sports, such as bicycling, which became the rage on both sides of the Atlantic. The bicycle was a major change agent, as it liberated women from the home, required their physical fitness, and impacted the way they dressed. The show features Thor's Peugeot Bicycles (c. 1900) poster and one of only two bicycle posters by Cheret, Cleveland Cycles, of 1901, both fine examples of the sport poster category.
Sports posters were also an important element of the rise in popularity of new kinds of sports at the turn of the century. New technology was essential to the rise of motor racing and aerial shows. Both captivated the public from the minute they appeared on the scene. The Automobile Club of France sponsored the first auto grand prix in 1906, and the show spotlights a rare classic from the 1912 Grand Prix at Le Mans. Aerial meets became powerful draws by the summer of 1909, a mere five years after the Wright Brother's first flight. The first international flying show, held at Reims, drew more than 100,000 spectators. Several early aviation prints are presented in the show, as well as a previously unseen poster for the Mt. St. Michel Aviation competition in 1911, which apparently never took place.
By the 1920s sport had entered a golden era of popularity, due to increasing leisure time and disposable income, combined with the broad reach of radio. The poster had been transformed as well, with the streamlined Art Deco style of Cassandre sweeping away the more organic and detailed Art Nouveau style. Examples in the show are Merano, a fashionable horse racing poster from the Dolomite region in Italy, an in-store golf poster display for Semmering in the Austrian Alps, two world championship boat race images by Percival Pernet, and auto racing posters from Mercedes and the Swiss Grand Prix.
In the Twenties, even the sport of girl watching became more interesting, as sunbathing became popular. Several Roaring Twenties resort gems are displayed, such as Broders elegant Antibes (c. 1927), Roger's L'ete sur La Cote D'Azur and Augusto Giacometti's Grisons.
The show concludes with a selection of post-WWII sport posters. Amongst the best are a series for the French Tennis Open. The 1981 poster featuring a close-up of only the sweat band and long hair of Bjorn Borg's head qualifies as a classic sports poster. There are also several posters included from various post-war Olympiads. Starting in 1896, the modern Games have a rich poster tradition that continues to this day.
"This is our first show dedicated to the world of summer sport posters and reveals an incredible range of subject and style," Gallery owner Jim Lapides stated. "We are pleased that there is something for everyone here, both collectors and newcomers, with prices starting below $100 to several thousand."
View All Sports Posters