Archive for the ‘Illustration’ Category

Design | The Fine Art of Sun Worship

Friday, May 30th, 2014

AGAY, c 1930. Roger Broders (1883-1953)
Estimate £6,000 > 8,000





The Art of Travel
Christie’s,
London, UK
18th June 2014

Villa America. It sounds like the title of a film. Was it one of those shown in the 2014 Cannes Film Festival that ended last week? No. But if the villa and its inhabitants had never existed, then the festival might never have been established at all in this area of the South of France, and to have a tan may never have become fashionable.

By the late 19th century rail networks were so widespread that the French Riviera / Côte d’Azur had become an accessible and attractive destination for wealthy northern Europeans – Russians, the English – seeking a winter escape. To accommodate them, all along the coast luxury hotels were established. Casinos flourished. From spring to autumn, everything closed. But then Gerald and Sara Murphy, a well-to-do American couple, who had escaped their families’ mutual dissatisfaction with their marriage and become the toast of avant garde Paris, holidayed on the Riviera in the summer of 1921. Promising to return the following year, they convinced the grand Hotel du Cap in Antibes to remain open so that their friends could come to see them and have somewhere to stay.


MONACO, 1932. Robert Falcucci (1900-1989)
Estimate £15,000 > 20,000


ANTIBES, c 1928. Roger Broders (1883-1953)
Estimate £6,000 >8,000


COTE d’AZUR,1931. A M Cassandre (1901-1968)
Estimate £10,000 > 15,000


THE FRENCH RIVIERA FOR PERPETUAL SUNSHINE, 1930.
Roger Broders (1883-1953)
Estimate: £4,000 > 6,000


Far from ordinary friends, the Murphy’s friends were extraordinary writers and artists, among them Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Fernand Léger, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Cole Porter and Dorothy Parker. Significantly, two others were F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Although the Murphys themselves and some of their friends recognised much more of F Scott and Zelda in the characters, it is widely accepted that the Murphys were later to become the models for Nicole and Dick Diver in Fitzgerald’s book Tender is the Night (1934).

In the meantime, the Murphys, who with their glamorous, arty friends would appear to have popularised the fine art of sunbathing, which quickly became fashionable and every summer in succeeding years would draw ever-increasing numbers of sun-seeking visitors to the Côte d’Azur, decided to stay, buying the house at Cap d’Antibes they called Villa America.

The colourful and graphic posters of the era in Christie’s forthcoming sale The Art of Travel, in London, were exhibited throughout the Cannes Film Festival at the JW Marriot Cannes.


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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you

The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


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All Categories | The Blog is on Holiday

Friday, September 6th, 2013

This Way, 2012, Pedro Silmon

Our Mapplethorpe Curated by Huppert blog post was published early this week

Watch out for our next post on, or around, September 27th

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The Blog is about art, architecture, gardens, books, design and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you

The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Auction | René Gruau

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Christie’s Interiors – Style & Spirit
London, South Kensington, UK
Sale: 29th January, 2013
Viewing: January 26th-29th

If you missed the wonderful Dior Illustrated: René Gruau and the Line of Beauty show at London’s Somerset House in 2010, or, if you were fortunate enough to see it but came away aching to own one or more of Gruau’s chic and uncompromisingly graphic, highly collectible, original artworks, here’s your chance. Amongst a mixed bag of almost 400 lots that includes items as diverse as a very handsome pair of mid-20th century German, steel, 10 x 8 field binoculars by Busch (Estimate £2,000-4,000), and a pre-17th century composite elephant bird egg from Madagascar (Estimate £5,000 – 8,000), the catalogue for the forthcoming Christie’s Interiors – Style & Spirit sale, lists four Gruau’s, all at fairly affordable prices.

Images by René Gruau, from top
Point d’exclamation, circa 1950
Gouache on paper, signed
Estimate £2,000-3,000

Le masque, circa 1950
Gouache on paper, signed
Estimate £1,500-2,000

Lady in red, circa 1970
Ink and gouache on paper, signed
Estimate £4,000-6,000

Model for glove, circa 1950
Gouache and ink on paper, unsigned
Estimate £3,000-5,000

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The Blog is about art, architecture, gardens, books, design and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you

The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Poster Design | The Magic of Things

Friday, August 17th, 2012

The Magic of Things
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Zürich, Switzerland
29th August, 2012 – 6th January, 2013

Accounts vary but one version of the story is that, in the year 1900, when Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec were at work in Paris, Picasso was entering his Blue Period and Edvard Munch was painting The Girls on the Bridge, Emil Kahn (1883–1972), just seventeen years old – an autodidact who never went to art school – had an argument with his parents, left his family home in Stuttgart and moved to Berlin. He bummed around doing odd jobs and on a whim entered a poster competition organised by the Priester Match Company. He won first prize. His son Karl explained later that Kahn, who changed his name to Lucian Bernhard, believed that the actual facts of his youth had little relevance to his adult work and that he enjoyed toying with the details of his life, revising his stories to suit a particular audience. What is certain and unambiguous is that, at a time when posters were dominated by flowery Art Nouveau and Jugenstil decoration, Bernhard’s bold, stripped down, elegant design signalled the beginning of the modern commercial poster and marked the start of his legendary career.

So precious is their collection of vintage posters – it was started in 1875 – that it can only be viewed by prior appointment, however, the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Switzerland’s leading design and visual communication museum, has delved into its phenomenal archive – roughly 350,000 posters, one of the most comprehensive and important of its kind in the world – and put together The Magic of Things, a celebration of product posters.

Lucien Bernhard, whose work figures prominently in the exhibition had recognised how effective advertising that used a compact blend of product and brand name could be. In a world of unprecedented, booming economies, as yet untouched by the harsh realities of the First World War, his posters pioneered selling to a burgeoning consumer society. During the next two decades he became well-known throughout Europe.

Understandably, in the inter-war period when only the well-off had the means to buy, product posters were aimed predominately at the middle and upper classes. In the 1940s Switzerland experienced a rapid economic upswing which resulted in the dawning of a golden age of the Swiss product poster. Now, with improved printing techniques, Swiss designers – among them, Niklaus Stoecklin, Peter Birkhäuser, Donald Brun and Otto Baumberger – building on Bernhard’s flat style, introduced mood lighting and highlights to lend beguiling sensuality, as well as tactile qualities to illustrations of objects as unglamorous as household cleaning fluid to spark plugs. By introducing additional complementary items – props – the brand name products were made to emanate a seductive emotional draw. Perfect for a country with four national languages – which may have been the underlying reason for the object poster’s prolonged success in Switzerland – copy was practically non-existent. Stoecklin’s posters in particular, included no other copy than that which appeared on the products themselves. The Bauhaus and all the various early modern movements had happened, however, the style of these Swiss poster artists, who absorbed some influences from Art Deco and surrealism, was in essence a continuation of an earlier one and represents a period before strict grids and the Helvetica font become synonymous with Swiss design. More radical and rationalist, his early poster work was entirely different to Bernhard’s, the latter’s influence remains evident in the employment of reduced resources to maximum effect in the output of Josef Müller-Brockmann, whose international reputation would eclipse all those above.

With the democratisation of consumption in the 1960s, the emergence of global products and brands and the general growth of wealth in the western world leading to far greater competition, changes in advertising strategy became necessary. The focus on the product and its brand name no longer sufficed.

Eighty product posters have been selected for the exhibition and will be juxtaposed against photographs of objects, which, in the way they concentrate on the essential aspects of things, accentuate qualities similar to those the poster images project.

Posters from top
Eric de Coulon, Revue, 1941
Museum für Gestaltung Zurich
© The Artist

Lucian Bernhard, Galoschen – die besten Begleiter auf der Welt, 1913
Museum für Gestaltung Zurich, Plakatsammlung
© The Artist

Nicklaus Stoecklin, Sonnenschutz Bi-Oro, 1941
Museum für Gestaltung Zurich, Plakatsammlung
© The Artist

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mouth2mouth | grundini

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

mouth2mouth | exclusive interview
grundini | graphic information supremo

Peter Grundy was a founding partner, with Tilly Northedge, of successful UK-based informational graphics design practice, Grundy & Northedge (1980-2006). Soon after he set up on his own. Releasing himself from the thankless task of producing beautiful informational booklets that no-one saw, and making a miraculous transformation into his alter-ego, Grundini, his work has gone global. As Taschen publish their latest design tome: Information Graphics, The Blog posts the first of an occasional series of interviews with prominent figures in the worlds of art, architecture, design, gardens, photography, etc.

Referencing Mies van der Rohe’s famous – and so very often repeated – remark, in terms of information graphics: is it enough for form to follow function?
Much of information design teaching follows the notion that designers should not infect the message with their own ideas. When Tilly Northedge and I started working together in 1980 we went against this theory, believing instead that the designer should function as a journalist and have an opinion on the messages they are asked to convey.

If the subject matter isn’t particularly interesting, is it enough to make your visual interpretation of whatever it is, attractive?
The most important part of any of my solutions is a good idea; that’s the bit most [information graphic] designers miss because they see things in terms of their own style. A good idea can bring uninteresting data to life, style probably not.

Is your preference for creating informational diagrams or poster images?
No preference. The Shell billboard posters I did are, as far as I’m concerned, information pieces, whereas Bodyparts – originally a diagram for Esquire – worked well as a poster.

How much input from an art director is comfortable for you?
They can contribute as little or as much as they like, but ultimately I’ll give them my take. I did a job recently for someone who was very prescriptive; I gave them my idea, they came back saying you didn’t put in what I asked for; you left off this and that, etc. I told them to find someone else.

How difficult is it to get the information you need from clients?
It varies. Mostly I get too much and have to edit it which, after 30 years, I’m quite good at.

In what form do you prefer to receive data from clients?
Simple, short messages. The Guardian’s G2 section were very good; they just provided the info they wanted to be included in the 30 spreads they asked me to produce – just as well, since one spread was required every week.

Albert Einstein said; ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.’ Agree? Disagree?
Simple messages are sometimes communicated by complicated visuals.

What method do you use to extrapolate the information given to you by a client?
What I seek is an overview idea, instantly communicating the message that will take the audience into the piece and invite them to explore. The two main tools I use for this are humour and entertainment.

Milton Glaser has said that computers are to design as microwaves are to cooking – the inference being that aside from using one for defrosting frozen ingredients, the best cooks wouldn’t touch a microwave with a barge-pole. Is this an outmoded remark?
I don’t think MG or anyone else for that matter could have seen in the 1980s, or even the 90s, how new technology would change the world of communication. He was talking about early, crude computer tools failing the requirement of those designers who had made things by hand. Today the internet has created new media environments and design challenges that need to be addressed by evolving design technologies. Having said that creative intelligence prevails now as it did 50 years ago.

When did you start using a computer for design?
Late 80s

How did the change effect your way of working?
Not at all, other than Adobe Illustrator replaced my set of Kern drawing instruments. The way my work looked didn’t change at all. What did change was the way I communicated with clients. When I started business was done by talking to people either in meetings or on the phone – today it’s by email or Skype. Sometimes that’s a shame, but the advantage is that one has a global rather than a local market.

How do you start to develop a visual idea – pencil scribbles or do you go direct to your computer?
I think and scribble in a small book then I do a finished piece on a computer that I show to the client. I don’t show the client a rough anymore – they don’t get it. This is something that surprises people who say to me: ‘That’s a lot of work to have rejected if they don’t like it’. My answer is that the idea is the difficult bit – building the image is often quite quick, and if I’m confident in the solution I can often convince.

Do you ever produce work without the aid of a computer?
No

What computer programmes do you use?
Adobe Illustrator is my tool box.

For an RCA project you produced an alphabet based on sections of the London Underground map, originally designed by Harry Beck in 1931. How important was the tube map to the development of your ideas about graphic communication?
Well, it is one of the seminal influences on any designer. It’s a good idea, it’s a simple expression of a complicated thing and it’s elegant.

At art college, were you any good at life drawing?
Rubbish at drawing! And because of this, I had to develop an achievable way of communicating visually – and fast. So I turned to a set of drawing instruments and developed a way of representing things simply using simple shapes. If anything my drawing borrows more from typography than the life drawing class.

I sometimes think I detect influences from the great art deco poster designer, Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, in your simplistic style of drawing and the graduation techniques you use, say, in the image for the international section on your website. Is he an influence and from who else do you draw inspiration?
We all benefited greatly from the art history education we received in the 70s.

Some of your bold, simplistic stuff – I’m thinking of the hand image on your 2004 Action Aid International poster and the 2007 Men’s Health magazine, as well as the figure in your Price on your head double-spread diagram for Esquire, is reminiscent of the primitive art of modern-day Central America. Is this accidental or have you studied the art from that region?
Yes, that’s true, my attraction to these ancient ways of drawing is its achievability. But this is the style thing, style is not enough to communicate and, as previously mentioned, the main ingredient is the idea.

You’ve been enormously prolific since the Grundy & Northedge company closed up shop and you became Grundini. Do you miss working within a company or do you prefer to work alone?
When Tilly Northedge retired I had two choices: carry on the company or do something different. I choose the latter. My aim was to get away from projects which were 25% creative and 75% management and to concentrate on work that was all about the creative. I achieved that, the problem was I was working on my own which can get boring. So now I work on my own but within a creative studio, in Holborn, London, where I’m amongst the creative cut and thrust every designer and illustrator need.s

Is the work you do now more, or less, lucrative than that which you did at Grundy & Northedge?
More lucrative. In the days of G&N we used to spend weeks and months producing beautiful informational books that no one saw, with next to no budget. Nowadays I concentrate on just the imagery and I sell these not only to information clients, but to a whole spectrum [of clients], though I doubt I could have achieved this position without my previous experience of working with Tilly Northedge as Grundy & Northedge.

Images from top
Death spread, Men’s Health magazine, 2007
Tree of skills diagram, The Guardian Educational Supplement, 2007
Price on your head diagram, Esquire magazine, 2006
The Age of energy illustration, The Telegraph newspaper, 2011
The Transform Awards imagery, The art of the impossible, 2012
All images ©Grundini

Information Graphics by Sandra Rendgen & Julius Wiedemann with 200 projects and over 400 examples of contemporary information graphics from all over the world – ranging from journalism to art, government, education and business, includes four essays about the development of information graphics since its beginnings, an exclusive poster by Nigel Holmes – who during his 20 years as graphics director for Time revolutionized the way the magazine used information graphics – is published by Taschen

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Book | Psychedelic Art

Friday, March 9th, 2012


Electrical Banana Masters of Psychedelic Art

Norman Hathaway & Dan Nadel, Damiani, Spring 2012

The 1960s and psychedelia were finally over. The world’s first supergroup, Cream, formed in mid-1966 – the year that the hallucinogenic drug LSD was made illegal in both the UK and the US – had broken up in late 1968. The 1969 Beverly Hills murders of Sharon Tate, actress and pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski, heiress Abigail Folger and four others, by Charles Manson and his family of followers had contributed to an anti-hippie backlash. At the end of the same year, the Altamont Free Concert in California, headlined by The Rolling Stones, became notorious for the fatal stabbing of Meredith Hunter by Hells Angel security guards. In London, in 1970, virtuoso experimental guitarist, Jimi Hendrix, who had disbanded The Jimi Hendrix Experience, choked to death on his own vomit. Janis Joplin died the same year – of a heroin overdose. In 1971, heart failure aggravated by heavy drinking brought about the death of another of psychedelia’s iconic figures, Jim Morrison of the Doors – the band named by him after author Aldous Huxley’s account of drug experiences in The Doors of Perception.

The word psychedelic had indeed been coined by British psychiatrist, Humphrey Osmond, in a 1956 letter to Huxley, who had been experimenting with the hallucinogenic drug mescaline. Psychedelic rock was a style of music that was inspired or influenced by the miasmic psychedelic drug culture that had steadily been establishing itself amongst the young in the UK and in America since the late 1950s. It attempted to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. Emerging out of the folk tradition, becoming an international musical movement associated with a widespread counter-culture, psychedelia came to the fore in 1966 and reached its peak between the 1967 so called ‘Summer of Love‘ and 1969’s Woodstock rock festival, reported by the BBC as, ‘Three days and nights of sex, drugs and rock and roll…’.

Peering back now, our vision obscured by time and the various attempts to reincarnate the psychedelic era’s music and culture – notably by British, 1980s bands Echo & The Bunnymen and The Stone Roses and later, Blur – not forgetting Glastonbury and the Burning Man festival in Nevada – through the dark shroud that hung over the music scene at the beginning of the 1970s, Flower Power, guitars that sounded like sitars, LSD, The Byrds’ Eight Miles High, The BeatlesSgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP and the alternative Oz magazine, would seem to merge into a single amorphous whole. And it’s difficult not to lump the phantasmagoria of imagery that psychedelia generated into one. Hathaway and Nadel, Electrical Banana’s authors – I can’t help thinking Electric Banana would have been a better title – set themselves the onerous task of examining the international visual language of psychedelia, via its graphic legacy, with the aim of identifying the most important artists and showing that it was far more innovative, compelling and revolutionary than was previously thought.

Three important contributors to the genre and my own personal favourites, all featured in Electrical Banana, are Martin Sharp, Heinz Edelmann and Tadanori Yokoo. Born in 1942, hailed as Australia’s foremost pop artist, Sharp’s covers, cartoons and illustrations were a central feature of Australian and London’s Oz magazine. Sharp co-wrote Tales of Brave Ulysses, one of Cream’s songs, and created the cover artwork for the group’s Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire albums. Emerging at around the same time as Terry Gilliam – of Monty Python’s Flying Circus fame, film and opera director – and Alan Aldridge – he of the 1973 book, The Butterfly Ball, made into a film in 1977 – Czech-born, Heinz Edelmann (1934-2009) – who had produced work for legendary art director/editor, Willy Fleckhaus, at Twen magazine, and also illustrated the first German edition of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings was the multifaceted graphic designer and illustrator who created the comically hallucinogenic landscape of Pepperland for Yellow Submarine, the 1968 animated Beatles film. Japanese graphic artist, and close friend of author Yukio Mishima, Tadanori Yokoo, was born in 1936. As a young man, he became involved in the Japanese avant-garde scene of the 1960s through his designs for dance companies and drew influences from pop art, India and traditional Japanese prints. At New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s 1968 Word & Image exhibition, Yokoo’s 1968 poster for the Tokyo Gekio Theatre Company was named the work best encapsulating the spiritual atmosphere of the decade. Through international exposure, he became acquainted with rock and folk musicians who often asked him to design their posters and album covers. He became especially close to John Lennon and Carlos Santana and produced work for Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Cat Stevens. Interestingly, as Elelectrical Banana reveals, neither Edelmann nor Yokoo took hallucinogenic drugs.

Images from top
Record Sleeve for Cream’s Disraeli Gears, 1967 ©Martin Sharp
Stills from Yellow Submarine, 1969. ©Heinz Edelmann,
Movie Poster for the film The Trip, 1968. ©Tadanori Yokoo

Electrical Banana: Masters of Psychedelic Art by Norman Hathaway & Dan Nadel is published by Damiani

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Illustration | Wow!

Friday, September 23rd, 2011


Illustration Now! Volume 4

Julius Wiedemann. Taschen

Illustration goes in and of fashion. Its often the case in times of economic slump that it is abandoned in favour of photography: prospective clients, wrongfully, in my opinion, believing that it lacks impact. The examples above prove otherwise.

Brazilian-born Julius Wiedemann has been involved in much of publisher Taschen’s graphics-related output from advertising, packaging and branding to app and mobile case studies. Like these other books, the Illustration Now! series is well-produced and well-selected, demonstrating the great variety and strength of current illustration techniques, the world over. Hopefully, it will go a long way in helping to inspire advertising clients, art directors, editors and publishers to trust and recognise illustration’s unique communication qualities, and that the current econmic recession will prove to be an exception to the rule.

Illustrators, from top:
Roman Klonek
2010, The New Power Generation, Personal work
Alice Wellinger 2010, Medicine from the rainforest, Vital magazine
Gianluca Folì 2008, Bookcover, Ali Smith – La Prima Persona, Feltrinelli
Gabriel Moreno 2011, Illustration Now! Vol 4, Cover illustration

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