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Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design Hardcover – November 9, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Saul Bass, best known for transforming the way movies begin, was in fact a designer of incredible versatility. As design historian Pat Kirkham shows in his forthcoming book on Bass (co-authored with Bass' daughter Jennifer), the legendary "visual communicator" also applied his graphic wizardry to album and book covers, typefaces, packaging, retail displays, a hi-fi system, toys and a postage stamp.

"... A superb guide...." --Wall Street Journal

"...the first major book on his work....the book paints an engaging picture of Bass as a vigorous, highly disciplined man with a gift for friendship and sense of fun."--The New York Times, and this same review by Alice Rawsthorn also appeared in the INTERNATIONAL HEARLD TRIBUNE.

"Few cineastes would disagree that, among designers of motion-picture graphics, Saul Bass is the king of them all." --Metropolis.com

"Saul Bass ... Possibly the most famous graphic designer of all time....yet no definitive monograph of his prolific, monumental work has existed--until now."--The Atlantic

"Surely Bass already has a monograph--he must. But he didn't, until now.....Today, everyone claims to be a multidisciplinary designer, but Bass was one of the first to be commercially successful at it--45 years ago."

About the Author

Jennifer Bass is a graphic designer and artist. She has worked at CBS Television in New York and at Sussman/Prejza & Company in Los Angeles. In 1994, she and her husband, Lance Glover, opened their studio, Treehouse Design Partnership in Los Angeles, working in the areas of environmental graphics, identity and book design.

Pat Kirkham is Professor in the History of Design, Decorative Arts and Culture at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design & Culture, New York. She has written and edited a number of books, including Charles and Ray Eames (1998) and Women Designers in the USA 1900-2000 (2001).

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 428 pages
  • Publisher: Laurence King Publishing; Unknown edition (November 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1856697525
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856697521
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 1.8 x 11.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A timely release about one of the great and influential designers of the last century and clearly Pat Kirkham has made this a scholarly work considering the amount of research involved. The title will most likely become the standard biography of Bass. Having said that I was disappointed to find the book had some editorial flaws in its presentation.

Millions of movie-goers are familiar with the stunning credits Bass created (sixty stills are included in a fold-out dateline in the back pages) from Carmen Jones in 1954 to Casino in 1995 and the book rightly devotes a large number of pages to credits and the marketing of these movies. My first disappointment is that a DVD was not included with the book. OK, I'll accept that this would involve a lot of extra work (and probably copyright fees to make the book even costlier) and it wasn't in the author's remit so the fall back position would be to show the credits in as much detail as possible: frame by frame to give the reader a feel of how Bass created these powerful opening movie statements. Unfortunately many of these credit stills throughout the book are treated more as individual images, in various sizes, rather than shown as a sequence of large thumbnails. Solana and Boneu's Uncredited: Graphic Design & Opening Titles in Movies [With DVD] book has a whole chapter on Bass credits and the pages work well. 'Anatomy of a murder' has thirty-two thumbnails, 'North by northwest' has twenty-four. In this book they get six and five.

Chapter six looks at the corporate work of Saul Bass and he worked for a lot of companies.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Find the common element among these things: _Psycho_; United Airlines; Quaker Oats; Dixie Cups; _Goodfellas_; the Girls Scouts of America. I picked a grab bag, and I could have included a lot more, to show how diverse the work of Saul Bass was; he did graphics, and more, for all of them. There is no bigger name in graphic design than Saul Bass, and now there is a gorgeous book, huge and colorful as befits his career, _Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design_ (Lawrence King Publishing) by his daughter Jennifer Bass, herself a graphic designer, and Pat Kirkham, who teaches decorative arts and design history. Flip through the 400 big pages here, and you are bound to find logos, posters, and movie title sequences you have seen many times; Bass's range and influence were astonishing. There is a bit of biography here, along with a relatively chronological summary of his work from his poster for his high school's open house through the poster for _Schindler's List_. The text is worth reading, and the authors have quoted generously from Bass's own thoughts on his life, work, methods, and output. As befits Bass's legacy, however, this is a picture book, and it is a treat for the eyes.

Bass grew tired of following formulas and "cramming as much illustration, type and hype as you possibly could into ads" in the early days, and eventually specified that he would not work on movie ads. In 1946, however, he realized he had to get out to Hollywood. Title sequences of the movies were conventional letters over conventional backgrounds, and sometimes theaters ran the initial credits over the curtain as it went up. Bass thought a film began at the first frame and deserved a mood-setting overture.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Merritt on January 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One might fear that a book about a great artist spearheaded by one of his offspring would be overly personal and perhaps too adulatory. This book is neither. While it does certainly pay homage to Bass--as it should, because he was a giant of design--I think it's fair to say that Jennifer Bass and Co. have paid impressive tribute in a book as elegantly and engagingly laid out and designed as much of her father's work. The truly fascinating part of this book for those of us who came to Saul Bass through his film credits is to discover his origins and his amazing body of work as a designer. He ranks just barely below Rand as a founding father of graphic design in the 20th century, and this book offers a wealth of examples of his successes both in marketing/advertising and as a filmmaker and titleist. (And carrying it around borders on a workout; it must weigh nearly ten pounds.)

The price tag may seem a little high, but trust me it's worth every penny.It's a beautiful book that will be fun for Bass' already knowledgeable fans, and informative (and fun) for those of us who perhaps did not already appreciate the important link between print and visual design in the 20th century and the important role this brilliant man played in bridging the two. Highly recommended.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By SKF on November 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is pure joy- a sumptuous and fascinating look at one of the most important designers and filmmakers of the 20th century, chock-full of bold, beautiful images. If one reads past the first chapter, which is about Mr. Bass' early life and sets the stage for the rest of the book, there is a depth of writing about his creative process, woven throughout with personal stories and anecdotes about the work in his own voice. The gatefolds displaying his film work and extensive corporate identity designs are an added treat. This book is destined to become a classic.
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