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Brodovitch (Masters of American Design) Hardcover – October, 1989
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From Publishers Weekly
"Astonish me!" was Alexey Brodovitch's constant admonition to the artists, photographers and designers he directed through his long career as a pacesetter of graphic design. As art director of Harper's Bazaar from the depths of the Depression to the high plateau of Eisenhower optimism, he changed the role of graphics and the graphic artist in daily life. In this strikingly handsome book, Grundberg, photography critic for the New York Times , chronicles his subject from dashing Russian emigre to dean of American art directors. A case can be made that as a theorist Brodovitch anticipated the work of Moholy-Nagy, but he wrote little, preferring to devote himself to his work and his many proteges. Besides discussing and unveiling Brodovitch's designs and photos--including a brilliant set for the Ballets Russes--the author also sets the work of such master photographers as Avedon, Penn, Brassai and Cartier-Bresson in context.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
For a book on a visual subject there are, I'm pleased to say, plenty of examples of Brodovitch's work. Magazines include sixty-seven spreads from Harper's, thirty-five from the three issue only Portfolio Magazine. Books include eighteen from the 'Day of Paris', thirteen from Richard Avedon's 'Observation', eleven from 'Saloon Society' and six from 'Ballet' where he also took all the photos.
Brodovitch's greatest achievement was obviously his work on Harper's and you can see, as the years rolled by, changes in editorial layout. The thirties and early forties reflect a whimsical, sometimes surrealistic handling of photos, graphics and type. The war years, with clothes rationing and dull fashion produced a much simpler layout which evolved in the late forties and into the fifties to using photos, especially from Avedon, with almost white backgrounds which could have the headlines, copy and captions overprinted. Considering that a lot of fashion is for the minute just how does a designer do something new every few issues with shoes? On pages eighty and eighty-one Brodovitch solved the problem with the ten shoe spreads from 1945 to 1956, they all work, too.
Apart from all the Harper's spreads I was particularly interested in the thirty-five from Portfolio. The three issues are amazingly expensive second-hand and it seems an obvious magazinefor some enterprising publisher to reprint. Without the constraints of a commercial editorial format Brodovitch was able to create some wonderful spreads but an expensive to produce graphic arts magazine without commercial direction really couldn't succeed.
I recently reviewed Alexey Brodovitch (Portfolio (Assouline)) which only covers his Harper's years with fifty-spreads and nine covers and is of interest because the magazine's pages are reproduced life-size (though with rather inadequate reproduction, in my view) but there is no copy, only short captions. Grundberg's book is much better because it covers a whole life story of this fascinating publication designer.
***LOOK INSIDE THE BOOK by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.