I came across the fascinating images of mid-cenutry advertising/film promotion pictured below in a catalogue for Swann Auction Galleries NYC, at an auction of photographs and photobooks coming up in NYC on April 19. The whole catalogue can be viewed here
The auction contains swoon worthy art photography by the big names and lesser known names – but in addition has some fascinating pieces of social history like these. Another very interesting auction lot is one of over 1,000 NASA Apollo missions – but I will save that for another time.
This is Lot 279, and it consists of group of aprroximately 123 lobby cards for Mexican B Movies, promoting spaghetti westerns.
“a melodramatic cut-scene photograph alongside period titling, credits and graphic design. Offset lithographs, overall measuring 11×14 inches (28×35.6 cm.), each with a mounted silver print, the images measuring 6 1/2×8 inches (16.5×20.3 cm.) Circa 1960s”
Mexican Movie Lobby Card Image – Swann Galleries NYC
Below is the amazingly psychedelic, bright and bold cover design for Gebrauchsgraphik, January 1968 – The German publication for visual communication and artistic advertising, edited by Eberhard Holscher.
The designer of this typically psychedelic piece is not credited anywhere I can find in the publication however.
The psychedelic movement began in the mid 1960’s and effected many parts of popular culture. It reached its peak in the “Summer of Love” in 1967, but its influence carried into the early 1970s.
The term “psychedelic” refers to drugs popular with the youth culture of the time, and Psychedelic Art and Design tried to express visually the sensation of “tripping out” .
Some of its influences included Art Nouveau, Op Art and Surrealism, and 3 of the best known Psychedelic designers are Wes Wilson, Victor Moscoso and Bonnie Maclean
Gebrauchsgraphik Cover Jan 1968
Erik Nitsche (1908 – 1998) was born and studied in Switzerland before moving to the U.S. in 1934. His worked helped change the face of graphic design in the United States.
His designs were beautifully “clean”, balanced compositions with brilliant use of colour, geometry and elegant typography. Amongst his most recognisable and memorable work is a series of posters for General Dynamics where he was artistic director 1955-1960.
Due to the sensitive nature of the subjects he designed for at General Dynamics (national security, atomic energy, weapons, aircraft etc) he had to develop a sophisticated abstract visual language in which he conveyed the corporate mission of General Dynamics without depicting any of their products. In some designs by Nitsche you can see the influence of the work of artist Paul Klee who was a family friend during Eriks’ formative years.
Nitsche’s futurist “Atomic” design style was also very influential, and often copied by other designers in the 1950s.
Swann Auction Galleries in New York have an auction coming up on March 1, which features a collection of Erik Nitsche’s General Dynamics posters, from the collection of Gail Chisolm (1954-2017). Featured below is a selection from Swann Galleries catalogue. Click HERE to see the whole catalogue.
You can also view a fascinating visual archive of designs by Erik Nitsche on Flickr which includes some superb album cover designs for Decca HERE . There is also a comprehensive biographical article on Nitsche on THIS website
ERIK NITSCHE (1908-1998) GENERAL DYNAMICS / CANADAIR LIMITED. Circa 1960.
ERIK NITSCHE (1908-1998) GENERAL DYNAMICS / ATOMS FOR PEACE. 1955.
ERIK NITSCHE (1908-1998) GENERAL DYNAMICS / NUCLEAR FUSION. 1958.
The Penrose Annual of 1956 has a feature article entitled “American Graphic Design” by Peter Selz & Robert Kosta. It is quite a comprehensive story of the history of American graphic design from the early 20th century until when it was written for the 1956 publication.
The article outlines the strong influence on graphic design of painting, architecture and the Bauhaus in earlier part of the 20th Century. It also outlines the possible dangers emerging such as:
“One danger felt by many designers stems for an approach to graphic design in terms of visual form in themselves, without regards for their meaning. This leads easily to cut and dried formula layouts with the substitution of a new set of cliches”
The whole article is a fascinating read, as are all of these in-depth articles in the Penrose Annuals. The articles are well worth studying for those interesting in the history and development of graphic design, emerging technologies of this time, and the development of our overall visual language during the 20th Century.
Magazine Cover by W. H. Allner
Magazine Cover by W. H. Allner
In the Gebrauchspgraphik International Advertising Art Journal of January 1968, is an article entitled “Swiss Pharmaceutical Advertising”.
It features graphics from a publication written by Hans Neuberg which illustrates “a very comprehensive account of the present situation of Swiss chemical and pharmaceutical advertising” at the time.
Pharmaceutical Ads have always been different in their graphical nature to other industrial advertising, because, as outlined in the article:
“For whereas conventional industrial art principally depends on the procurement and utilisation of objective data…..the advertising of chemical-pharmaceutial industry is characterised by a strong, informative tendency. Frequently this method is imposed by far more abstract subject matter”
Below is a selection of some of the impressive and beautiful designs featured in this comprehensive article:
Pharmaceutical Ad – Design by Ciba Studio Basel