Interview by Luca Sabbatini, freelance journalist, to coincide with the exhibition of the Château de Nyon poster collection.
JD Clerc and Galerie 1 2 3
"The adventure of Galerie 1 2 3 begins in April 1977, when I discover by chance twenty-one vintage posters under an old wooden floor. They had been placed there in the 1920s simply as insulating material! The posters depicted a Renault Grand Sport car at full speed. The beauty of the image, the quality of the colours and the lithographic printing all fascinated me. To this day, I treasure a copy of this poster in my private collection. I also find my calling: to safeguard a piece of the history of communication that is in danger of being lost.
After a Master's degree in general linguistics and French literature, I set out in search of vintage posters. There's an urgency to it: at the time I'm starting out as a collector and dealer, advertising posters are suffering from not being considered as art, but as simple 'advertising' that doesn't deserve to be saved from the rubbish bin!
In 1983, I open the Galerie 1 2 3 in Geneva. Over the years, I try to meet the main 'pioneers' of the vintage poster, custodians of a knowledge that is in the process of disappearing: dealers and collectors in Paris and New York who encourage me and help me with my research. I also have the opportunity to contribute to a number of specialist books, notably on winter sports posters, while also taking part in numerous exhibitions in Switzerland, the United States, London or Singapore.
Following a meeting with the artist Robert Garvin, Galerie 1 2 3 opens in 1993 its own workshop for the conservation and restoration of vintage posters in the centre of Geneva. Over the years, the workshop has developed a unique expertise in the preservation of works on paper, based on consolidation and restoration techniques that are never invasive, always gentle and reversible.
In 1996, I was one of the founding members of the IVPDA (International Vintage Poster Dealers Association), the umbrella association of dealers in original vintage posters, of which I was one of the vice-presidents for several years, as well as an active expert on the authentication committee.
Today, Galerie 1 2 3 is home to one of the largest collections of original vintage posters in the world. Accumulated over more than forty years, this exceptional visual treasure trove illustrates a wide range of fields, from tourism and advertising to the arts, travel, transport, sport, leisure and entertainment.
The Château de Nyon poster collection
My long association with the Château de Nyon dates back to the summer of 1998, when the museum's curator Vincent Lieber visited my gallery in Eaux-Vives. In August 1998, the Château de Nyon purchased its first three posters from Galerie 1 2 3, all linked to products, companies or institutions that have played a part in Nyon's economic or socio-cultural history: the "Centaure" aperitif, accompanied by "Sans-Tort, finally a healthy aperitif", and the "Tir Cantonal Vaudois" in Nyon in 1906. Numerous other posters followed, along with leaflets and advertising cards.