THE ARCHITECTURAL FORUM February 1939
George Nelson [Associate editor]: THE ARCHITECTURAL FORUM. Philadelphia: Time, Inc. [Volume 70, number 2, February 1939]. A very good original magazine with wire spiral binding: the cover is lightly worn and soiled. Bottom corner bumped. The spiral binding is in unusually good condition and does not bind any pages when opened. A nice copy thus. Interior unmarked and very clean.
8.75 x 11.75 spiral-bound magazine with 136 pages of editorial content showcasing the Architectural and Industrial Design of the American Streamline Moderne Machine Age aesthetic. There are also an excellent assortment of vintage trade advertisements that espouse the depression moderne streamline aesthetic quite nicely. You have been warned.
Bound-in [as issued]: Wallace K. Harrison, William Lescaze, William Muschenheim, Stamo Papadaki, James Johnson Sweeney (Editors), Herbert Matter [Typography and Layout]: PLUS 2: ORIENTATIONS OF CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE. Photomontage cover by Herbert Matter. 16 pp. bound-in profusely illustrated with two-color printing throughout.
Check out this list of collaborators credited in the second issue: Max Abramovitz, Josef Albers, Leopold Arnaud, Harris Armstrong, Beatty and Strang, Walter Curt Behrendt, Walter Blucher, Marcel Breuer, Morrison Brounn, John Porter Clark, Alfred Clauss, Robert L. Davison, Howard T. Fisher, Albert Frey, R. Buckminster Fuller, Philip L. Goodwin, Bertrand Goldberg, Harwell Hamilton Harris, Alfred Kastner, George Fred Keck, Albert Kahn, Lyndon and Smith, L. Moholy-Nagy, Marsh, Smith, and Powell, Richard J. Neutra, Peter Pfisterer, Antonin Raymond, Walter Sanders, R. M. Schindler, Paul Schweikher, Edward D. Stone, Philip N. Youtz, Le Corbusier, Alberto Sartoris, and P. Morton Shand Truly amazing.
The PLUS series was conceived as a modernist adjunct to Time Inc.'s ARCHITECTURAL FORUM. With six editors (!) and a list of collaborators that reads like a Rosetta Stone of the Modern Movement (see below), this slim journal attempted to bring the rapidly-emigrating sensibilities of the European Avant-Garde to mainstream America. Seventy years of hindsight clearly shows that giving Herbert Matter free reign to interpret the editorial content was a brilliant choice by the decision-makers at the Forum.
This edition of PLUS utilized the visual vocabulary of the European Avant-Garde (PhotoMontage, Avant-Garde typography, etc.) to showcase the Modern movement in America. An exceptional document presenting a forceful integration of American Editorial Design with a truly European Avant-Garde sensibility by a true master of the form.
Additional Forum Contents:
Herbert Matter (1907-1983) was born in Engelberg, a Swiss mountain village, where exposure to the treasure of one of the two finest medieval graphic art collections in Europe was unavoidable. In 1925, he attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Genf, but after two years, the allure of modernism beckoned him to Paris. There, the artist attended the Academie Moderne under the tutelage of Fernand Leger and Amédée Ozenfant. While the former became a close lifelong friend, both encouraged Matter to expand his artistic horizons.
In Europe during the late Twenties and early Thirties, the creative scope of graphic design was boundless. Journalistic, imaginative and manipulative photography were revolutionary influences, and Matter, long-enamored with the camera, began to experiment with the Rollei as both a design tool and an expressive form — a relationship that never ended. Inspired by the work of El Lissitzky and Man Ray, Matter was intrigued by photograms, as well as the magic of collage and montage —both were favored modes. In 1929, his entry into graphic design was completed when he was hired as a designer and photographer for the legendary Deberny and Piegnot concern. There he learned the nuances of fine typography, while he assisted A.M. Cassandre and Le Corbusier. In 1932, abruptly expelled from France for not having the proper papers, he returned from Switzerland to follow his own destiny.
"Herbert's background is fascinating and enviable," said Paul Rand. "He was surrounded by good graphics and learned from the best." Therefore, it is no wonder that the famed posters designed for the Swiss Tourist Office soon after his return had the beauty and intensity of Cassandre and the geometric perfection of Corbu, wed to a very distinctive personal vision.
In 1936, Matter was offered roundtrip passage to the United States as payment for his work with a Swiss ballet troupe. He spoke no English, yet traveled across the United States. When the tour was over, he decided to remain in New York. At the urging of a friend who worked at the Museum of Modern Art, Matter went to see Alexey Brodovitch, who had been collecting the Swiss travel posters (two of which were hanging on Brodovitch's studio wall). Matter soon began taking photographs for Harper's Bazaar and Saks Fifth Avenue. Later, he affiliated himself with a photographic studio, "Studio Associates," located near the Condé Nast offices, where he produced covers and inside spreads for Vogue.
During World War II, Matter made striking posters for Container Corporation of America. In 1944, he became the design consultant at Knoll, molding its graphic identity for over 12 years. As Alvin Eisenman, head of the Design Department at Yale and long-time friend, points out: "Herbert had a strong feeling for minute details, and this was exemplified by the distinguished typography he did for the Knoll catalogues."
In 1952, he was asked by Eisenman to join the Yale faculty as professor of photography and graphic design. "He was a marvelous teacher," says Eisenman. "His roster of students included some of the most important names in the field today." At Yale, he tried his hand at architecture, designing studio space in buildings designed by Louis Kahn and Paul Rudolf. "He was good at everything he tried to do," continues Eisenman. In 1954, he was commissioned to create the corporate identity for the New Haven Railroad. The ubiquitous "NH" logo, with its elongated serifs, was one of the most identifiable symbols in America.
Spreads from this volume can be viewed here.
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