Alexey Brodovitch is one of the iconic famous art-directors of all time
Truman Capote: “What Dom Pérignon was to champagne … so Brodovitch has been to … photographic design and editorial layout”.
Alexey Brodovitch is one of the iconic famous art-directors of all time. Known for his art-directing on fashion-magazine Harper’s Bazaar.
“Brodovitch’s signature use of white space, his innovation of Bazaar’s iconic Didot logo, and the cinematic quality that his obsessive cropping brought to layouts (not even the work of Man Ray and Henri Cartier-Bresson was safe from his busy scissors) compelled Truman Capote to write, “What Dom Pérignon was to champagne … so [Brodovitch] has been to … photographic design and editorial layout.”
THE CARMEL SNOW YEARS: 1933-57
In 1933, editor in chief Carmel Snow (who’d been a fashion editor at Vogue) brought photojournalist Martin Munkacsi to a windswept beach to shoot a swimwear spread. As the model ran toward the camera, Munkacsi took the picture that made fashion-magazine history. Until that moment, nearly all fashion was carefully staged on mannequin-like models in a studio. Snow’s buoyant spirit (she rarely slept or ate, although she had a lifelong love affair with the three-martini lunch) and wicked sense of adventure (she evaded customs by snipping the labels out of her Parisian couture) brought life to the pages of Bazaar.
ALEXEY BRODOVITCH: 1934-1958
In 1934, newly installed Bazaar editor Carmel Snow attended an Art Directors Club of New York exhibition curated by 36-year-old graphic designer Alexey Brodovitch. Snow called it a revelation, describing “pages that bled beautifully, cropped photographs, typography and design that were bold and arresting.”
She immediately offered Brodovitch a job as Bazaar’s art director. Throughout his career atthe magazine, Brodovitch, a Russian émigré (by way of Paris), revolutionized magazine design. With his directive “Astonish me,” he inspired some of the greatest visual artists of the 20th century (including protégés Irving Penn, Hiro, and, of course, Richard Avedon) to create legendary images.
Brodovitch’s signature use of white space, his innovation of Bazaar’s iconic Didot logo, and the cinematic quality that his obsessive cropping brought to layouts (not even the work of Man Ray and Henri Cartier-Bresson was safe from his busy scissors) compelled Truman Capote to write, “What Dom Pérignon was to champagne … so [Brodovitch] has been to … photographic design and editorial layout.” Sadly, Brodovitch’s personal life was less triumphant. Plagued by alcoholism, he left Bazaar in 1958 and eventually moved to the south of France, where he died in 1971. However, his genius lives on. Thirty-six years later, the work of Alexey Brodovitch never fails to astonish us.
THE AVEDON YEARS: 1945-1965
Avedon’s women leaped off curbs, roller-skated on the Place de la Concorde, and kicked up their heels in nightclubs..
From the time Richard Avedon began creating fashion portfolios for Harper’s Bazaar at the age of 22, his photographs intoxicated our readers with his signature cocktail of chic insouciance and boundless vitality.
Born in New York City to a retailing family, Avedon grew up with Bazaar in his home. After serving as a photographer in the U.S. Merchant Marine for two years, he promptly found his mentor in art director Alexey Brodovitch, who, with editor in chief Carmel Snow, hired him as a staff photographer in 1945.
Avedon’s women leaped off curbs, roller-skated on the Place de la Concorde, and kicked up their heels in nightclubs, animated by the freedom of the postwar era, the frivolity of youth, and the fabulousness of fashion.
He was immortalized in the 1957 film Funny Face by the character Dick Avery (played by Fred Astaire), who asked, “What’s wrong with bringing out a girl who has character, spirit, and intelligence?” During his 20-year career at Bazaar (he left in 1965), Avedon always did just that.
THE VREELAND YEARS: 1936-62
When Carmel Snow saw Mrs. T. Reed Vreeland dancing on the roof of New York’s St. Regis Hotel in a white lace Chanel dress and a bolero with roses in her hair one evening in 1936, she knew she’d found Bazaar’s newest staffer.
Diana, who is said to have invented the word pizzazz, first grabbed the attention of readers with her glibly grand Why Don’t You … ? column. (A typical suggestion: “Why don’t you … wear, like the Duchess of Kent, three enormous diamond stars arranged in your hair in front?”)
Before long, she became fashion editor, collaborating with photographers Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Richard Avedon and, later, art director Henry Wolf to produce legendary stories. Her eccentricity and eagle eye (she was an early champion of Lauren Bacall, Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick, and a legion of fashion luminaries), as well as her sharp wit and sweeping pronouncements (“I adore that pink! It’s the navy blue of India”), were memorialized in the movie Funny Face, making her, for many, the prototypical fashion-magazine editor. Long after her death in 1989, her special brand of pizzazz is felt on our pages.
Text Source: HARPER BAZAAR by JENNA GABRIAL GALLAGHER©
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