(versão em português pode ser lida no post abaixo)
I visited this small – and great! – exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York with a selection of works (many are original pieces!) of Paul Rand, the legendary graphic designer, known mainly for his work in corporate identity (including here some classic logos, such as IBM or Westinghouse).
“Everything is Design – The Work of Paul Rand” features more than 150 advertisements, posters, brochures and corporate books of this well recognized icon of American design.
Born in Brooklyn, Rand, in the 30s, began working on magazine covers (mainly covers for Esquire and Apparel Arts – the Apparel Arts was the first name of Gentlemen’s Quarterly, the well-known GQ magazine).
In the 40s, he worked as an art director in the Weintraub agency on Madison Avenue. In advertising, he revolutionized the art direction, leaving the conventional model of “photo and title” to a more artistic language strongly influenced by cubism and constructivism that were the European avant-garde at the time.
Later – and until the end of his life – he served as designer of some of the leading and most influential companies in the period (IBM, ABC, UPS, NeXT and Steve Jobs). He has designed identity systems and complete visual communications (something that was not so common at the time and was the very beginning of what we now call branding), ranging from packaging to the development of corporate signage. Projects always based on very strong logos, many of them are still in use.
He was also a professor at Yale University where he influenced a generation of young professionals.
His visually stimulating language and amazing design problem-solving ability attracted admirers throughout his life. And his influence is still present in the way corporate identities are built.
Some pictures I took of the exhibition:
Ad for Benzedrine in tablets and elixir for the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. Innovative layout with more emphasis on typography. (A curiosity that has nothing to do with Rand Paul: the benzedrine was used at the time – and as being sold in the ad – to breathe better but soon people discovered that it also has a stimulating effect (it was a type of amphetamine) and eventually became one of the first “recreational” drugs in the world.
Packaging, poster and other pieces for El Producto cigars, developed in Weintraub agency, merging cool illustrations, great typography, geometries and colors. (This American brand of cigars still exists today, but not so well-known how it was at the time, when its main advertiser was the famous comedian and writer George Burns).
For those who want to know more, a complete library of the Paul Rand’s work, his life and history can be read and known on the site http://www.paul-rand.com.
The exhibition runs until 19 July and I visited in May this year (2015).
I finish the post with a great sentence of Rand: “Visual communications of any kind … from billboards to birth announcements, should be seen as the embodiment of form and function: the integration of the beautiful and the useful.”