Original Watercolor Ski Poster “Pontresina” by Herbert Leupin (Swiss: 1916 – 1999),Basel School, 1949

Original Watercolor Ski Poster “Pontresina” by Herbert Leupin (Swiss: 1916 – 1999),Basel School, 1949


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Original Watercolor Ski Poster “Pontresina” by Herbert Leupin (Swiss: 1916 – 1999),Basel School, 1949, a watercolor and gouache painting original for one of Leupin’s celebrated ski posters, this one with a modernist anthropomorphic depiction of a fir tree as a skier, wearing a tie and mittens, and with a sun face wearing a toque and smoking a pipe, with the legend “Pontresina” across the bottom; whimsically there is a red fox running down the skier’s right arm; signed and dated “Herbert Leupin, ’49” in pencil lower left, and inscribed in pencil “Suisse/Schweiz” lower right.

This painting is executed in hues that differ from the subsequent lithographed posters, and was done on light brown paper that is utilized as the negative areas.It is mounted in a later wooden frame.

The painting remains in very good condition, with only one very small water stain in the lower right, and some slight wrinkles along the bottom.

Measures: 37 in H x 24 in W
Framed: 38-1/2 in H x 25-1/2 in W

Pontresina is a wildly romantic, sunny and protected from the wind alpine region in Switzerland. Pontresina lies at 1805 meters in an Upper Engadine side valley, very close to the Bernina massif with the two most famous peaks of the Engadine: Piz Palü and Piz Bernina (the latter, at 4049 m is the highest peak in the Eastern Alps).

Herbert Leupin: (1916-1999) was born in Beinwil am See Switzerland. From 1932 to 1935 he trained at Kunstgewerbeschul in Basel where he studied under such masters as Paul Kammuller, Herman Eidenbenz and Donald Brun. After graduation he did an internship at atelier Eidenbenz. Then from 1935-1936 he studied at L’Ecole Paul Colin in Paris. (Paul Colin master of the Art Deco poster and noted for discovering Josephine Baker).

Herbert Leupin stepped out on his own two years later, in 1938, as an independent graphic designer. In 1939 he was commissioned by Bell (the best charcuterie butcher in Basel) to design a poster for them. The poster was so successful for the butcher they had to have the cutting boards created for their customers.

For Leupin this was the begining of a decades long career. He is considered to be one of the most important European graphic designers of the 20th century. He was the most prolific, award winning and influential of the Swiss Graphic designers. He produced nearly 1000 posters, won 85 Swiss Poster of The Year awards, and countless others internationally including The Medal Award of The Art Directors Club Chicago in 1960. Currently Herbert Leupin has at least 10 posters in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In the 1940’s & 1950’s the “Object Poster” was “The” style of the graphic designers of the Basel School. These posters were especially well suited to stone lithography. This process allowed the designer to achieve a richness in color and texture that created images that popped off the page and were printed with such detail that they appear 3 dimensional. Leupin was able to combine his incredible graphic skill, subtle sense of humor and gifted use of color to achive some of the best “Object Posters” of that era.

In the 1950’s Leupin struggled to reinvent his style, necessitated by the phasing out of stone lithography for photo-offset printing. Fortunately for us Leupin found inspiration in the early drawings of his sons. This period is marked by a more spontaneous, free and expressive time for Leupin. As well this period is a graphic depiction of his subtle, whimsical sense of humor. In the 1970’s Leupin increasingly dedicated his time to non-commercial work. Though he illustrated several children’s books and would occaionally design a logo or poster for a company. From 1970 untill his death he lived and worked in the Ticino region of Southern Switzerland.

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