Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

These fine examples of Hungarian poster art were quietly waiting for several weeks before being presented on Dieselpunks.

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.

Modiano ad by Sándor Bortnyik

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).

Italian Modiano ad by Franz Lenhart, 1930

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:

Diadal cigarette paper ad by István Irsai

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)

Ujság newspaper ad by Sándor Bortnyik

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 Árpád Bardócz

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

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Comment by lord_k on February 10, 2012 at 1:38pm

The pleasure is all mine, dear friends.

Comment by Komissar Hass on February 9, 2012 at 12:45am

Somehow forgot to click "add comment" yesterday:)

So, I just wanted to express gratitude for the efforts made in order to "decipher" the stories behind the pictures.It is very enlightening, and that's why I truly love dieselpunks.org.

Comment by Elvisrocks59 on February 8, 2012 at 8:10pm

Another fine post my Lord ! 

Comment by lord_k on February 8, 2012 at 10:42am

Regarding your last idea, Cap'n:

I plan a trip to Budapest in May or June. Would you keep me company?

Comment by Cap'n Tony on February 8, 2012 at 10:07am

Lord K, you make me nostaglic for adverts, of all things!  These are so much more inticing than all the souless, empty sex and Stepford Happiness of today's ads.

Almost makes me want to smoke! ;)

Or buy vacuum tubes or lead a red revolution in Hungary, or something...

Comment by lord_k on February 8, 2012 at 8:59am

Great, Dieter! Would you be so kind to add it to our Movie Library?

Comment by Dieter Marquardt on February 8, 2012 at 8:51am

Talking about Philips. There is a great Norwegian Philips film made by Hans Fischerkoesen in 1937: "How the Light Came Anyway When the Sun Overslept". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YxsXGs37xo Back then a commercial did not take 30 seconds but 4 minutes 37!

Comment by lord_k on February 8, 2012 at 8:01am

By the way, Dieter, there's something in common between the Tungsram ad and A.M. Cassandre's poster for Philips radio tubes. It's interesting to see similarities and differences. Cordiatic ad is also very Cassandre-ish.

Comment by Dieter Marquardt on February 8, 2012 at 7:45am

Wonderful works of art and a fascinating history combined in one!

Comment by lord_k on February 8, 2012 at 7:19am

My pleasure, Stefan.

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