Alex Kow 1901-1978
Jan/Feb 2019 edition
Issue #3 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
The Russian revolution of 1917 changed Alexis’s life dramatically, but luckily, a Swiss family took him under their wings and made it possible for him to study at the Collège Technique des Arts et Métiers in Genève. This family owned a Rochet-Schneider automobile, and during this time Alexis became fascinated by cars. After finishing his studies, he went to Paris where he tried to invent a drawing machine, but failed.
Subsequently he went on to get a job as junior draftsman at a small ‘carrosier’ in Levallois. He often slipped into the workshop to see how the bodies were produced. In the evenings, he made renderings and sketches of the work he had seen. By chance his boss saw these drawings and was very impressed, because Alexis’s cars were drawn with a perfect perspective, something very few draftsmen achieved.
He proposed that Alexis start an art studio and sell his work to other coachbuilders and car manufacturers. In 1922, Kow made his first advertisements for Panhard et Levassor.
In 1978, the book A.Kow [40 ans de creation publicitaire automobile] showcases this genius’s incredible output from early 1920s into early 1950s; long out of print, but an exceptional reference book.
He produced publicity for Panhard, Hotchkiss, Salmson, Hispano-Suiza, Delahaye, Bugatti, and Peugeot. In addition, he did ads for Marchal, Englebert, and Cibie.
“Grand Prix du Cap d’Antibes” is, in my mind, one of the absolute icon posters of the Art Deco era, or any era for that matter. In 38+ years I have seen this large poster only twice! It is the cornerstone of my personal collection, and Ralph Lauren used this design for a most successful line of automotive themed ties nearly 30 years ago. A.Kow’s automobile themed posters and advertisements typically range from $400 to $1500, with some extremely rare ones (such as my “Grand Prix du Cap d’Antibes”) valued as high as $33,000
Kow’s sense of space, creating movement and drama, is second to none. He clearly, and graphically conveys the power of his subject matter like no one else.
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Vintage Auto Posters
Tony Singer, the owner of Vintage Auto Posters and Automobilia Monterey International Expo writes about finding, preserving and collecting Vintage Auto Posters.