The reason is simple: in our community, pictures should tell a story. And Modiano posters printed in Hungary in 1932-1933 can tell a lot if someone cares to ask - or to research. Often erroneously attributed as "Italian", the posters promoted an Italian brand but were commissioned from Hungarian artists - and for Hungarian market.
Another error is to describe them as "cigarette ads". Actually, they advertised high-quality cigarette paper. Modiano factory in Trieste was established in mid-19th century by Saul David Modiano, a Salonika-born Jewish entrepreneur. Family biographer wrote: "Of the 11 children of Daniel Modiano and Regina Arditti <...> and without any doubt the best known was Saul D. Modiano. He made the Modiano name famous all over the world with the playing cards and the fine cigarette paper he manufactured in his factories in Trieste and Bologna. Decks of Modiano playing cards designed by top graphic artists and printed on the finest and lightest material are still on sale even though the Trieste factory has since passed to other hands. Legend has it that Saul fled Salonika at an early age, because the Ottoman authorities were after him. Believing that if they caught him they would have cut off his hands under the law of the Sharia, he escaped to Italy. " (Mario Modiano, The Genealogical Story of the Modiano Family from ~1570 to Our Days).
The Modiano family business survived the Great War (it wasn't easy, considering that two factories were divided by the frontline - Trieste belonged to Austria, remember?) and continued to grow. In 1932, a new factory was established in Budapest, Hungary, where the market was dominated by domestic brands:
For its promotional campain, new factory recruited the best local artists. By the early 1930s, Hungarian advertising art was very advanced, producing ads which London Underground or Paris Metro would happily display at their stations. And if you need a proof, here it is:
Eg-Gü shoe polish ad by Georg (György Adler)
Nor-Coc caps ad by István Irsai
Modiano campaign (1932-1933) generated a series of laconic, elegant posters which helped the brand to conquer the market:
Modiano ad by Győző Vásárhelyi 1933
Modiano ad by Zoltán Kónya
Modiano ad by Pál C. Molnár
Modiano ad by István Irsai
Modiano ad by Róbert Berény
Just a moment... The name sounds familiar. There was an artist called Róbert Berény in charge of the painting department, Art Directorate, Hungarian Soviet Republic. The artist who created the most impressive icon of the short-lived Communist regime (March 21 - August 1, 1919):
This poster, calling "To Arms! To Arms!", was widely reproduced under the second Communist rule (1947-1989).
We can see it on a postage stamp and a coin commemorating 50th Anniversary of the Red takeover.
Frankly, I was sure that Mr. (or rather Comrade) Berény was either executed after the fall of Bela Kun regime (read its brief story here), or imprisoned, or fled to Russia. For best of my knowledge, the White terror was just as merciless and bloodthirsty as the Red one. But it appears I was wrong: the artist fled to Germany and returned to Hungary seven years later, reemerging as the leading illustrator and advertising artist. Enjoy his non-Modiano prints:
Cordiatic ad by Róbert Berény, 1927 or 1929
Palma gum shoes ad by Róbert Berény
Flora soap ad by Róbert Berény
Back to Modiano:
Modiano ad by Tibor Pólya
Well, another name from 1919 roster:
Restore the Railways! by Tibor Pólya
In 1920-1930s, Mr Pólya created a number of ads including this one (for gum shoes):
I can't stay a temptation to show you an educational poster distributed by the Soviet Republic:
Frightening, isn't it? But this work of art (by Imre Földes) urges good citizen to consult a doctor in case of an accident, no pun intended.
To add something more lively, (and also dieselpunk-y) I end this article with a 1934 advertisement for Tungsram radio tubes, by István Irsai:
Who needs radio tubes today? Who can remember the texture of Hungarian-made Modiano paper? The products are long gone, but the art lives on.
Most of the images are from the Hungarian Gallery
Headline poster by Sándor Bortnyik, 1932