Saturday, April 28, 2012

Oldřich Hlavsa: Book Covers

Básně obrazy, Guillaume Apollinaire, 1965

I’ve been swooning over the typographic mastery of Czech designer, Oldrich Hlavsa (1909-1995). Though he's best known for his books about typography and book design, here are some of the books he designed.
The covers here are all from the 1960s. I’m thinking typographic jazz improvisation—you know one of those solos that go so far out there, you can’t imagine it ever coming back. And when it finally does, there’s way more than polite applause. As far out as Hlavsa might go with fragmenting, duplicating, slicing, or spacing, each does so with enough style and surprise that I’m left wondering how, exactly, he managed to pull it off.

Read more about him here (scroll down for English).

Typografická písma latinková, 1960

Moderní Francouzská Fotografie, J.A.Kaim, 1966

Clockwise from top left: Expresionismus, Ludvík Kundera, 1969; Inspiromat, Bratislav Hartl, 1967; Slovo o Pluku Majakovského, V. Majakovskij, 1961; Začarovaná Drožka, Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński, 1963

150,000.000, Vladimír Majakovskij

Veřejná Růže, Paul Eluard, 1964

Snář, Radovan Krátký, 1968

Prvotiny, Vydalo Státní, 1961

Pan Meister, Walter Jens, 1967
(Top: Dust jacket)

Posměšky a jízlivosti, Markus Valerius Martialis, 1965

Emil Filla, Čestmír Berka, 1964

Oldrich Mikulasek, Svlekani Hadu, 1963

These images are from Czech antiquarian book sites, of which there are many. You can try here, here, and here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Three Objects

Unfinished shoe last, turning section still attached, 1930s.
(Collection: London College of Fashion)

Industrial polishing tool, wool and other fibers,1984.
(Collection: University for the Creative Arts at Farnham)

Tapestry beater, 20th C.
(Collection: University for the Creative Arts at Farnham)

These digitally "found" sculptures are from VADS (Visual Arts Data Service) of the UK, which is a phenomenal collection of archives pertaining to the visual arts. It was created for the academic community and is meant for educational and research purposes. They’ve got everything from Charles Rennie Mackintosh´s sketchbook to war posters and Guinness ads.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Flying Through the Air

The astonishing collection of memorabilia at includes nearly 8,000 posters from 1880 to the present. Here is a tiny taste of the acrobats and aerialists.

The Leo-Tardy, 1904

The collection was amassed by circus enthusiast and scholar, Jaap Best. 3,500 lithographs by German printer Adolph Friedländer (including the above poster of The Leo-Tardy) form the core of the collection.

Jules Léotard, by the way, not only pioneered the art of trapeze (after getting a law degree), and popularized the one-piece bodysuit, but he was the inspiration for the song  "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze."

Braun & Braun, 1919

Andys Troupe, 1924

The Trio Hinode, 1905

The Three Cour's, 1911

The Urmann's, 1926

Circus Busch, Famille Frediani, 1910

The Four Flying Chinese's of the Royal Troupe 
Lijen-Chaisan, 1907

The Okabe Family, 1909

Blumenfeld's Luft Sensationen, 1925

Hegelmann-Troupe, 1913

Cirque des Frères Bouglione, 1951

Bertram Mills Circus at Oympia, 1938

Kerst Circus, 1996

Circus Barlay, 1960


Bureau, 1951

Cyrk Wielki, 1971

Amar, 1960

Friday, April 13, 2012

Black & Blue, with Points

MoMA 25th Anniversary Bulletin. I think that what I like most about the bold cover design by Leo Leonni, are those quiet lines of type.

Chichu Art Museum in Naoshima, Japan.

Two works by California hard-edge painter John Barbour, mid 1960s.

Found Polaroids, subject matter, unknown.

I’m still working on a term for these images that share similarities in appearance, but otherwise have no connection (see Of eBay and Empires).  Suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Wabbit Twacks!

Okay, he’s not exactly the Easter Bunny, but if you’ve had your fill of chocolate, why not treat yourself to a 6:52 minutes of everyone’s favorite gender-bending, Wagner-crooning, cartoon rabbit? 

And don’t just take it from me. In 1992, the Chuck Jones masterpiece, What’s Opera, Doc? was chosen by the Library of Congress' National Film Preservation Board as one of 25 "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant films" to add to the National Film Registry. (source)

Amid the sturm und drang, Brunnhilde is the ultimate sexpot/femme fatale …

Elmer Fudd: “Oh Bwunnhilde, you’re so wuvwy”
Bugs: “Yes, I know it, I can’t help it”


Thursday, April 5, 2012

And the “Malofiej” goes to …

Carl DeTorres took us through his IBM graphics

Given the recent explosion of interest in data visualization, I’m just assuming you’re all familiar with the Malofiej World Infographics Summit, which takes place every March in Pamplona, Spain.

Think Cannes Film Festival-meets-Ted-meets-World Economic Forum--but for infographics. This year’s confab being the 20th, was a star-studded affair. Conference mastermind, Javier Errea, who is president of SND Spain, programmed two full days of back-to-back presentations. It made for an exhausting, yet exhilarating event. The roster of presenters, needless to say, was who’s who of Visual Journalism. (i.e. Nigel Holmes, Jaime Serra, Carl de Torres, Bryan Christie, Alberto Cairo, and John Grimwade to name a few).

The conference culminated in an awards ceremony for graphics created during 2011. The New York Times made its usual sweep, winning six of the eight Gold Medals awarded and a full one-third of the total 111 “Malos.” (I doubt “Malo” would go over in Spain as a name for an award, which, come to think of it, is probably why it’s never been used. I like it, though, in a 90s hip-hop bad-means-good kind of way.)

Design assignment: Brand this award with a nickname and trophy!

I tried making a Pin Board of the print winners. Easier said than done. Many of the graphics are not findable, and often, the print graphics have very different online versions.

Alas, many winning graphics I was able to locate are not pinnable (i.e. Nat Geo, South China News). It’s just a bit unfortunate because a “pin” retains its original-source link, and that provides an opportunity to experience sites you might not necessarily visit.  As it is, a number of the images I’ve linked to, are posts from other blogs. 

“It’s the beauty, stupid” is how I would summarize Bryan Christie’s message. Beauty, of course, cannot be defined, or taught, but we all know how powerful it is. Bryan’s epiphany upon seeing Michelangelo’s Pieta in Rome was that the force with which beauty communicates is not to be ignored by anyone, let alone an information designer. It has forever changed his work, and it is a large component of what we find so sublimely compelling about his anatomical and medical illustration.

Matthew Bloch’s map for the New York Times showing taxi rides per hour over an entire week in Manhattan involved close to two million data points and much experimentation.

We were all envious of Nigel Holmes’s artistic license authorizing him to “combine pictures and information.” We were also envious of his grandchildren for whom he makes wonderful toys from found materials.

Much thanks goes to Professor Michael Stoll who provided an exhibit of some mouthwatering vintage infographics from his collection. On display, in addition to large panels of reproductions, were original books and documents. Visit Michael’s Flickr galleries, at your own risk. Once entering, you might never emerge.

Euskara fonts popularized at the end of the 19th century, with the emergence of Basque nationalism can be found throughout Pamplona, from the stenciling on dumpsters to shop and restaurant signage. Read more about Basque typography at Social Design Notes.

Another graphic feature you’ll see in the city is the stylized scallop shell signifying that you are on the Camino de Santiago/ Way of St. James/Chemin de St. Jacques, the pilgrimage route that leads to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Luckily the pilgrimage must be walked on foot, so Shell Oil has no tie-in here.

Model of Pamplona at the city’s Archive.

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