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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, MUMBAI

Nargis Wadia
PARIS; PRAGUE
Estimate
60,00090,000
LOT SOLD. 10,00,000 INR
JUMP TO LOT
40

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, MUMBAI

Nargis Wadia
PARIS; PRAGUE
Estimate
60,00090,000
LOT SOLD. 10,00,000 INR
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Boundless: India

|
Mumbai

Nargis Wadia
B.1935
PARIS; PRAGUE
Quantity: 2
Stamped 'Bombay Fine Art/ Bombay 27' lower right; Stamped 'Bombay Fine Art Offset & Litho Works/ Bombay 27' lower right
Lithograph printed in colour
40 x 30 in. (101.6 x 76.2 cm.) each
Executed in 1953; Executed in 1956
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Gifted to the current owner by Air India circa 1950s

Exhibited

Mumbai, Annual Commemoration of J. R. D. Tata Exhibition, 2016

Literature

Graphis Annual International Yearbook of Advertising 1960-61; Ed. W. Herdeg, Graphis Press, Zurich; 1961, p. 46 (Paris)

Catalogue Note

The Air India poster is a category in and of itself. Advertising in India in the 1950s saw a paradigm shift which spoke an entirely different language to pre-Independence advertising trends. It meant that visual communication was no longer about merely enlarging an image and superimposing it on a poster, it was about introducing an element of graphic or coloured expression, almost like a mural. Colour and composition therefore became more important than the drawing. It is for this reason that artists such as Nargis Wadia, who express themselves in a delicate graphic style use formats of a limited size because they were meant to be seen and understood from a distance and text had to be kept to a minimum. After deciding on the text and its arrangement, equal emphasis was laid on the lettering as everything in the composition must contribute to that conciseness that gives an Air India poster its unique, witty character.

Some of Wadia’s most well-known posters are those advertising flights to Switzerland and Germany, but none are as famous and talked about as the Paris poster. It is vibrant, bold and ahead of its time, with the style of lettering inspired by cabaret dancers at the Crazy Horse Club in Paris. Originally, the colourful, curvaceous legs of the letter ‘I’ were dotted by the Maharajah’s head- a great example of the tongue-in-cheek humour characteristic of Wadia’s posters. While it won her first prize at the prestigious Commercial Artist’s Guild awards, the cheeky feature of the poster did not go down well with the Indian Parliament. Says Wadia about Paris, “This is an insult to the nation, they said. They wanted it taken down,” (Salil Deshpande, “I once flirted with a Maharajah”, Condé Nast Traveller, Condé Nast, Mumbai, 2018). Even J. R. D. Tata asked her to "tone it down" she says, "J. R. D asked me to tone the imagery down, the original design was even more risqué..." (Nargis Wadia, 2018) 

Air India made its first international flight in 1948. The 5,000-mile journey from Mumbai to London made by the new Princess Malabar aircraft ushered in an unprecedented era of international air travel for India. Under the leadership of commercial director Bobby Kooka, the Air India in-house art studio took on the responsibility of promoting the luxurious hospitality of Air India across the country, and the world – their mascot, the world famous ‘Maharaja’, went on to create some of the best promotional material in the field at the time, and cemented the Maharaja’s place as the pioneer of luxury air travel in India, and a universal symbol of indulgence and adventure.

Boundless: India

|
Mumbai