Monday, 18 August 2008

Visual revolutionary

"If you know yourself, you are doomed."

Such was the attitude with which legendary designer and photographer Alexey Brodovitch, the long-time art director of Harper's Bazaar, approached each new project and transformed graphic design in the 20th century. Brodovitch was known foremost for his work on Harper's, but his legacy extended far beyond the magazine's pages: as a teacher in Philadelphia and New York for some five decades, he inspired dozens of young photographers and art directors who would go on to become famous names themselves, including Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Robert Frank and Lisette Model.
Alexey Brodovitch by Kerry William Purcell

Oh, of course he was a good designer and a superb typographer and had an innate sense of elegance about space, 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. - Henry Wolf, Brodovitch’s successor at Harper’s Bazaar, commenting on Brodovitch's unique approach to a layout.

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An Aesthete's Lament said...

Fabien Baron et al are crap compared to Brodovitch. No other art director has been so good.

Paul Pincus said...

brodovitch was an early hero of mine. the kerry william purcell title on brodovitch is fantastic, but my favourite is andy grunberg's (masters of american design series) on brodovitch. to be able to inspire and influence penn AND frank! quite amazing.

ps i'm sure you caught this, but just in case you missed it...grace jones is the fall women's edition of the new york times T magazine?!!

HOBAC said...

PP - you are a diamond! I hadn't seen it. Thank you.

Also like the Grunberg book, it is gorgeous.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

His approach to layout sounds familiar to me. I've worked with a number of people who have the same style; just not the same brilliant end results...

Just finished reading "Them" and bumped up against Mr. Brodovitch there, too. Sounds like he was the grandfather of the whole art director tribe.

I could spend weeks studying the last b&w image ("The Consensus of Opinion.")

HOBAC said...

It's as good as an art lesson on the use of negative space.