By 1930, Modernism had entered popular culture. With the increasing urbanization of populations, it was beginning to be looked to as the source for ideas to deal with the challenges of the day. Popular culture, which was not derived from high culture but instead from its own realities (particularly mass production) fueled much modernist innovation. Modern ideas in art appeared in commercials and logos, the famous London Underground logo being an early example of the need for clear, easily recognizable and memorable visual symbols. One of the most visible changes of this period is the adoption of objects of modern production into daily life. Electricity, the telephone, the automobile—and the need to work with them, repair them and live with them—created the need for new forms of manners, and social life. The kind of disruptive moment which only a few knew in the 1880's, became a common occurrence. The speed of communication reserved for the stock brokers of 1890 became part of family life.
Corresponding to these influences, Art Deco is characterized by use of materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, lacquer, inlaid wood, sharkskin, and zebraskin. The bold use of zigzag and stepped forms, and sweeping curves (unlike the sinuous curves of the Art nouveau), chevron patterns, and the sunburst motif are typical of Art Deco. Some of these motifs were ubiquitous — for example the sunburst motif was used in such varied contexts as a lady's shoe, a radiator grille, the auditorium of the Radio City Music Hall and the spire of the Chrysler Building. Art Deco was an opulent style and this lavishness is attributed to reaction of the forced austerity caused by World War I. Its rich, festive character fitted it for "modern" contexts including interiors of cinema theaters and ocean liners such as the Ile de France and Normandie. A parallel movement called Streamline Moderne or simply Streamline followed close behind. Streamline was influenced by manufacturing and streamlining techniques arising from science and the mass production shape of bullet, liners, etc., where aerodynamics are involved. Once the Chrysler Airflow design of 1933 was successful, "streamlined" forms began to be used even for objects such as pencil sharpeners and refrigerators.
Eventually the style was cut short by the austerities of World War II. In colonial countries such as India, it became a gateway for Modernism and continued to be used well into the 1960s. A resurgence of interest in Art Deco came with graphic design in the 1980s, where its association with film noir and 1930s glamour led to its use in ads for jewelry and fashion. South Beach, Miami, FL has the largest collection of Art Deco architecture remaining in North America.
With typography an important part of poster design, the company created several new typeface styles. Cassandre developed Bifur in 1929, the sans serif Acier Noir in 1935, and in 1937 an all-purpose font called Peignot. In 1936, his works were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City which led to commissions from Harper's Bazaar to do cover designs.
posters of the WPA
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Design between the two wars: Fortune Magazine
Single copies of that first issue cost $1 at a time when the Sunday New York Times was only 5c. At a time when business publications were little more than numbers and statistics printed in black and white, Fortune was an oversized 11"x14", using creamy heavy paper, and great art on a cover printed by a special process. Fortune was also noted for its photography, featuring the work of Margaret Bourke White and others. Walker Evans served as its photography editor from 1945-1965. An urban legend says that art director T M Clelland mocked up the cover of the first issue with the $1 price because nobody had yet decided how much to charge; the magazine was printed before anyone realized it, and when people saw it for sale, they thought that the magazine must really have worthwhile content. In fact, there were 30,000 subscribers who'd already signed up to receive that initial 184-page issue.
Economic and social influence aside, Fortune magazine's creative staff set a trend in magazine and editorial design, from page layout to usage of photography, illustration and typography which is still in use widely today.
The style was refined at two design schools in Switzerland, one in Basel led by Armin Hofmann and Emil Ruder, and the other in Zurich under the leadership of Joseph Muller-Brockmann. All had studied with Ernst Keller at the Zurich School of Design before WWII, where the principles of the Bauhaus and Jan Tschichold’s New Typography were taught.
new style became widely synonymous with the "look" of many Swiss
cultural institutions which used posters as advertising vehicles. Hofmann’s
series for the Basel State Theater and Muller-Brockmann’s for Zurich’s
Tonhalle are two of the most famous. Hofmann’s accentuation of contrasts
between various design elements and Muller-Brockmann’s exploration of
rhythm and tempo in visual form are high notes in the evolution of the
style. In addition,
the new style was perfectly suited to the increasingly global postwar
marketplace. Corporations needed international identification and global
events such as the Olympics called for universal solutions which the Typographic
Style could provide. With such good teachers and proselytizers, the use
of the International Typographic Style spread rapidly throughout the world.
In the U.S., Hofmann’s Basel design school established a link with the
Yale School of Design, which became the leading American center for the
New York School
For the purposes of Graphic Design, however, the New York School denotes the group of graphic designers active during the 1950s in and around New York. The older generation of these designers had fled from Europe earlier in the century, while the younger consisted of students which they educated at institutions such as the Cooper Union, Blackmountain College and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and who in turn become educators themselves, setting up a chain of innovative, modernist design firmly embedded within an instructional tradition.
His contribution to contemporary magazine design while art director of Harper’s Bazaar would be sufficient enough to honor Alexey Brodovitch as a pioneer in graphic design, but his influence was much greater. He was one of the first to introduce European modernism of the 1920s to the United States both by his own work and by commissioning art and photography from leading European artists and photographers, including A.M. Cassandre, Salvador Dali, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Man Ray. Through his lifelong dedication to teaching, he created a generation of designers who shared his belief in visual vitality and immediacy. Fascinated with photography, he fostered an expressionistic approach that became the dominant photographic style of the 1950s.
Born in Russia in 1898, Brodovitch fled the Bolsheviks in 1920 with his family and future wife and settled in Paris. Brodovitch’s design career flourished in 1924 after his poster design for Le Bal Banal, a benefit dance for poor artists, was selected over many other artists including Pablo Picasso. Soon he was in great demand, designing fabric, jewelry, restaurant décor, posters and department store advertisements.
Invited to the United States in 1930 to start an advertising art department at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, Brodovitch began his teaching career while completing numerous freelance assignments. In 1934, Carmel Snow, the new editor of Harper’s Bazaar, saw his design work and immediately hired him to be its art director. It was the beginning of a 24-year tenure that would revolutionize both fashion and magazine design.
By the 1950s, Brodovitch had perfected his style of combining text and photography with copious amounts of white space. Despite his easily recognizable work, Brodovitch did not formulate a theory of design. “There is no recipe for good layout,” he said. “What must be maintained is a feeling of change and contrast. A layout man should be simple with good photographs. He should perform acrobatics when the pictures are bad.” Henry Wolf, Brodovitch’s successor at Harper’s Bazaar, commented on his unique approach to magazine layout. “Oh, of course he was a good designer and superb typographer and had an innate sense of elegance about space,” Wolf said. “But his layouts were done only as approximations. He stood in the middle of the room and, with a scissor, cut out photostats which he taped to a piece of paper. Others later straightened them. It was communicating an idea, a mood, a criticism that he was precise and masterful.”
Besides his achievements at Bazaar, Brodovitch’s legacy as a publication designer included the influential but short-lived Portfolio. Only three issues were published in 1950 and 1951. An innovative quarterly aimed at the design profession, Portfolio contained vividly illustrated features on Alexander Calder, Charles Eames, Paul Rand, Saul Steinberg and others. It also contained the work of pioneering photographers, many of whom were Brodovitch’s students. As art editor, Brodovitch helped determine the magazine’s contents, and created its distinct design with the help of elaborate devices such as die-cuts, transparent pages and multi-page foldouts. Those three issues are considered by many to be the pinnacle of Brodovitch’s design.
He continued to teach throughout his career. His Design Laboratory, which he began in 1941 at the New School for Social Research in New York, focused on illustration, graphic design and photography. As a teacher, Brodovitch was considered harsh in his criticism but inspiring, and his student list reads like a who’s who of visual communication, including photographers Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Art Kane and Hiro, and art directors Bob Gage, Helmut Krone and Steve Frankfurt.
In an interesting way the chronology of Paul Rand’s design experience has paralleled the development of the modern design movement. Paul Rand’s first career in media promotion and cover design ran from 1937 to 1941, his second career in advertising design ran from 1941 to 1954, and his third career in corporate identification began in 1954. Paralleling these three careers there has been a consuming interest in design education and Paul Rand’s fourth career as an educator started at Cooper Union in 1942. He taught at Pratt Institute in 1946 and in 1956 he accepted a post at Yale University’s graduate school of design where he held the title of Professor of Graphic Design. In 1937 Paul launched his first career at Esquire. Although he was only occasionally involved in the editorial layout of that magazine, he designed material on its behalf and turned out a spectacular series of covers for Apparel Arts, a quarterly published in conjunction with Esquire. In spite of a schedule that paid no heed to regular working hours or minimum wage scales, he managed in these crucial years to find time to design an impressive array of covers for other magazines, particularly Directions. From 1938 on his work was a regular feature of the exhibitions of the Art Directors Club. Most contemporary designers are aware of Paul Rand’s successful and compelling contributions to advertising design. What is not well known is the significant role he played in setting the pattern for future approaches to the advertising concept. Paul was probably the first of a long and distinguished line of art directors to work with and appreciate the unique talent of William Bernbach. Paul described his first meeting with Bernbach as “akin to Columbus discovering America,” and went on to say, “This was my first encounter with a copywriter who understood visual ideas and who didn’t come in with a yellow copy pad and a preconceived notion of what the layout should look like.”
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, a pioneer typographer, photographer, and designer of the modern movement and a master at the Bauhaus in Weimar, may have come closest to defining the Rand style when he said Paul was “an idealist and a realist using the language of the poet and the businessman. He thinks in terms of need and function. He is able to analyze his problems, but his fantasy is boundless.”
By simply looking at one year of his career, the scope of his involvement in the field of graphic design can be understood: In 1945, Thompson designed the final issues of three wartime magazines including Victory and USA. Back in New York, before the year was out, he had become art director of Mademoiselle, where he worked for nearly fifteen years. He also accepted the role of design director for Art News and Art News Annual, a position he held for 27 years. As if that were not enough, he designed a brochure for the Ford Motor Company and began his experiments in typographic reform by creating his “monoalphabet,” which broke with the tradition of separate letterforms for capital and lower-case letters. He first introduced this typographic innovation in an issue of Westvaco Inspirations for Printers, one of four issues that he produced that year. And 1945 was not unusual.
Any analysis of Thompson’s style and any attempt to assess the value and extent of his influence leads irrevocably to one word: form. Whether by examining his precise cropping and careful placing of images on the printed page or studying his attention to typographic detail, his sense of order and stucture cannot be missed. Recalling his early draftsman experience Thompson said, “It was a critical part of my training as a designer. It taught me discipline and, working with huge sheets of tracing cloth, I learned to cope with space in an orderly way.”
The 1960's and 1970's
Herb Lubalin entered Cooper Union at the age of seventeen, and quickly became entranced by the possibilities presented by typography as a communicative implement. During this period Lubalin was particularly struck by the differences in interpretation one could impose by changing from one typeface to another, always “fascinated by the look and sound of words (as he) expanded their message with typographic impact. After graduating in 1939, Lubalin had a difficult time finding work; he was fired from his job at a display firm after requesting a two dollar raise on his weekly salary. Lubalin would eventually land at Reiss Advertising, and later worked for Sudler & Hennessey, where he served as art director for twenty years, eventually taking on the roles of vice president and creative director before leaving to start his own studio.
Lubalin spent the last ten years of his life working on a variety of projects, notably his typographic journal U&lc and the newly founded International Typographic Corporation. U&lc (shorthand for Upper and Lower Case) served as both an advertisement for Lubalin’s designs and a further plane of typographic experimentation; Steven Heller argues that U&lc was the first Emigre, or at least the template for its later successes, for this very combination of promotion and revolutionary change in type design. Heller further notes, “In U&lc, he tested just how far smashed and expressive lettering might be taken. Under Lubalin’s tutelage, eclectic typography was firmly entrenched.” Lubalin enjoyed the freedom his magazine provided him; he was quoted as saying “Right now, I have what every designer wants and few have the good fortune to achieve. I’m my own client. Nobody tells me what to do.”
He started his own studio, Milton Glaser, Inc., in 1974. This led to his involvement with an increasingly wide diversity of projects, ranging from the design of New York Magazine, of which he was a co-founder, to a 600 foot mural for the Federal Office Building in Indianapolis.
his career he has had a major impact on contemporary illustration and
design. His work has won numerous awards from Art Directors Clubs, the
American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Society of Illustrators and the
Type Directors Club. In 1979 he was made Honorary Fellow of the Royal
Society of Arts and his work is included in the Museum of Modern Art,
the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Israel Museum and the Musee de l'affiche
in Paris. Glaser has taught at both the School of Visual Arts and at Cooper
Union in New York City.
The work of the "second generation" Polish poster artists who "built" the Polish Poster School all had one thing in common: a distinctly personal gesture in one form or another. This characteristic is unique to the posters of Poland. Today's Polish poster art still has this characteristic. Their posters are still predominately made with brushes, pastels, and paints. One sees very little photography in these posters. To them the only valid expression of one's ideas is by human hand to paper. In a way this is what makes Polish Poster Art unique even today.Each poster is a genuine expression of the artist's feeling toward the subject, not just a catchy slogan or image.
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