Art Spotlight: The Omnibus Gallery
The Omnibus Gallery has been in business for almost 40 years and is the world’s best collection of rare and vintage posters.
Hours: Noon-ish to 8-ish
, Closed Sundays Unless The Hotels Are Full!
410 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen
Owner George Sells often hears customers compare his poster collection to that of a museum.
“This is not an overstatement,” Sells says. “It is special and unique in the world of art. In terms of graphic arts, this is the motherlode.” The inventory is deep, and the 3,300-square-foot space is filled with posters that are included in the major museum collections — MOMA, V&A, Pompidou, and more. The gallery’s rare posters date from from the late 1880s to just after World War II when stone lithography was at its zenith. During this 50-year period, both printing and the art were perfectly matched. Subject matters include: food & wine, film, travel, winter and summer sports, aviation, automobile, and almost anything else imaginable. The gallery features about 6,000 posters, with another 2,000 in back-stock. Prices range from $500 to tens of thousands.
Vintage posters were made to be destroyed, and are therefore mostly rare. The graphics were often glued to the sides of buildings or kiosks, and eventually covered by another poster. Prints that survived were often purchased illegally from the person hired to paste the posters up, and the surplus were sold through galleries.
Sells started collecting and selling vintage posters around 1981. He viewed the art form, known as “the art of the streets,” as a part of the human experience.
“We’ve seen posters all of our lives,” Sells says. “Graphic arts is in our DNA; it’s in our being. Viewing and purchasing art is a soulful and joyous experience we can all relate to.”
Artists represented include the turn- of-the-century masters such as Pierre Bonnard, Jules Cheret, and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Sells has about 15
Toulouse-Lautrec posters, who he calls the early “master” of this art form. In between the Belle Epoque and World War I, the significant graphic designers were the Germans, Ludwig Holhwein and Lucien Bernhard. The greatest artists of the 1920s and 1930s are also in Sells’ vast collection, including the “four musketeers” of Art Deco design: A.M. Cassandre, Charles Loupot, Paul Colin, and Jean Carlu.
The Omnibus Gallery offers you a unique opportunity to own incredible posters that changed the courseof graphic design. They are strong on content and light on fluff.
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