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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

1936 Art Deco Travel Poster

Here's an interesting poster I found on-line… a travel poster from 1936, created on behalf of the Oriental Tourist Conference.

Obviously promoting different Asian countries to visit, it's an interesting mishmash of images… though I'm kind of confused by them.

Obviously we have a kimono-clad Japanese women in red, with crosshatched obi belt… a Chinese woman with her wicked blue outfit done up under her chin, a very small man in black wearing a typical far east hat worn by manual laborers to keep the sun off, an elephant which one could assume is an Indian one, but could easily be representative of Thailand (it stopped being Siam in 1932).

And then there's the brown woman on the far left carrying a jug showing off her jugs - which we can assume is Indonesia… the white man in the pith helmet is probably Australian or a New Zealander… and then... then the other one...

The amorphous brown pillar with the red turban that looks like an infected penis. I assume that's representative of the sub-continent of India.

Being of Indian decent, I resemble that piece of genitalia - minus the infection, of course. I've certainly been called one - a dick, not an infection. Yeesh.

Sitting atop a white line drawing showing the scope of the global map that is 'the Orient', behind the people we see a cruise ship, a steam locomotive and a two prop airplane.

This is 1936, so all I can picture for the airplane is something like the one in Indian Jones And The Temple of Doom, when the gang was forced to jump out of the plane, inflate a rubber dinghy and hold on for dear life. You know that would never work, right?

The airplane and the train appear to be real black and white photographs applied to the poster as a collage.

Over in the top left corner, we can see, written in an arc, SATOMI, with an M centered below it.

That's the artist: Satomi Munetsugu (surname first), was born in Osaka, Japan in 1900 (dying in 1995). He studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, and was one of the masters in the field of Japanese poster design. 

While in Paris, Satomi-san was influenced by the popular Art Deco artistic movement - especially A.N. Cassandre, and the streamlined Machine Age art style.

The very first Oriental Tourist Conference was held in Tokyo in 1935.

In 1936, Satomi designed this poster to promote the event, using a photomontage of images featuring the best means of transportation to the oriental countries, the map and stylized figures from across the Orient. 

This lithograph travel poster was printed by The Toppan Printing Co., Ltd., in 1936 and measures 25 x 39.5 inches (64 x 100cm).

According to Swann Auction Galleries, a beautiful copy of this poster was estimated at US $3,000 - $4,000, but was eventually sold on November 8, 2012 for $4,560. That was my birthday three years ago.

And that's why I can't have nice things.

Somewhere being a poster boy for something or another,
Andrew Joseph
When I Googled 'Airplane', 'Ship' and 'Train' posters of Japan (I just did so, don't ask why) some eight months ago, I had no idea they were considered collectible enough to achieve such a high price, or that anyone knew who the artists were.
Since I have so many other posters stockpiled, I'll do my best to find out more about each.


  1. Was Satomi-san only 5 when he died or is there a typo? ;)

    1. I have no idea of what you re talking about. LOL! Man... thanks, for the heads up, Pat! I wish I had taken typing (or editing) in school... it's a good thing I'm not a full-time editor in my day job... oh... waitaminute...