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Norman Bel Geddes (Creative Art Magazine, 1933)

Norman Bel Geddes (1893 1958) was one of the prominent industrial designers to practice a style known as "streamline modern". Always mentioned in the same breath as Henry Dreyfuss and Raymond Lowey, Norman Bel Geddes opened his office in 1927 and helped to give the 1930s a defining look. He was the first of his kind to recognize that American manufacturers were sincerely interested in the marketing of modern design.

The sleek, aerodynamic lines of 1930s streamlining can clearly bee seen in the thirteen images illustrating the attached article about his work, which was written by Douglas Haskell, a well-known design critic active throughout much of the period spanning the mid-Twenties through the mid-Sixties; the column was intended to serve as a review for Geddes' 1932 book, Horizons.

 

Remembering George Gershwin and 'Rhapsody in Blue' (Creative Art Magazine, 1937)

By clicking the blue title link above, you will be treated to a postmortem appraisal of the American composer George Gershwin (1898 1937). The article was written by one of his contemporaries; Gershwin is admired in this article, but not idolized:

"No one could have been more surprised than George Gershwin at the furor the "Rhapsody" caused in highbrow circles. He had dashed it off in three weeks as an experiment in a form that he only vaguely understood. In no sense had he deliberately set out to make an honest woman out of jazz."

 

The Ill Fated One (Creative Art Magazine, 1932)

"There is much that can be said about those unfortunate men whom life does not treat properly and to whom only death gives the glory they had so wanted to know...One finds them on thrones, in society, among artists, among bourgeoisie, and in the lower classes. Modigliani has his place on this list of grief. His name follows hard upon those tragic ones, Van Gogh and Gauguin."

"A convergence of unhappy circumstances compelled Modigliani to live poorly and to die miserably."

 

The Streamlining of Cars (Creative Art Magazine, 1936)

Industrial designer Egmont Arens (1889 - 1966) wrote the attached design review covering the American cars of 1937:

"Perhaps it was just one of life's little ironies that overtook the automobile manufacturers a year ago. In their zeal to provide what they called 'streamlined' design, they took the tear-drop for their model, and the results were tearful indeed - to the sales managers. For they all looked alike..."

"The word 'Streamlining' got everybody a little confused, I am afraid, and off the track. Here was a term out of aerodynamics, invented to describe a solid shape that moves easily through fluid mediums, as the wings and fuselage of an airplane. The human eye responded gratefully to the flow of line prescribed by the laws of physics, and thus streamlining became synonymous with modern beauty. Industrial designers sprang up at every hand, and their main business was 'streamlining'."

Read about the Great Depression and the U.S. auto industry...

 

Cedric Gibbons: Production Designer (Creative Art Magazine, 1932)

Throughout film history there have been many men and women who have toiled in the Hollywood vineyards as art directors, but none have ever matched the level of high productivity as Cedric Gibbons (1893 1960). Indeed, he is remembered as the "dean" of art directors who stood head and shoulders above all others during Hollywood's Golden Age; between 1912 and 1956 there were hundreds movies that bore his thumbprint - winning Oscars for 39 of them (he was also one of the aesthetes who designed that award).

Illustrated by four photographs of his sets from the early Thirties, the attached article appeared mid-way through his career:

"At the Metro-Goldwyn studios in Culver City, just a few short miles from Hollywood, Mr. Gibbons rules supreme as art director. He is at the head of an intricately organized group of technical experts and artisans, numbering nearly two thousand individuals, and is responsible for the artistic investiture and pattern of some fifty or more feature films per annum."

Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction

 

The 1923 Tokyo Earthquake (Creative Art Magazine, 1932)

Writing for the editors of CREATIVE ART MAGAZINE in 1932, architect Frank Lloyd Wright wistfully looked back some nine years and remembered the devastating 8.3 Tokyo earthquake of 1923 and how it brought down so many structures throughout that city and yet the overwhelming power of nature was at a total loss to destroy his flawlessly engineered Imperial Hotel:

"The terror of the temblor never left me while I planned the building nor while, for more than four years, I worked upon it. Nor is anyone allowed to forget it..."

 

The Interior Design of the 'Hindenburg' (Creative Art Magazine, 1937)

This article from a 1937 issue of THE MAGAZINE OF ART addressed the over-all aesthetic appeal of the "Hindenburg". Written by Blanche Naylor, no stranger to all matters involving industrial design of the Thirties and Forties, the article goes into some detail as to the color scheme, upholstery, paintings and the names of the assorted German designers responsible for the beauty of the air-ship. The article is accompanied by seven photographs and one diagram of the public rooms accessible to the "Hindenburg" passenger's.

*Watch a Color Film Clip of the Hindenburg*

 

ISAMU NOGUCHI (Creative Art Magazine, 1933)

This is an early Thirties profile of a young American sculptor named Isamu Noguchi (1904 1988). In the years to come, Noguchi would become well known for his innovative designs for lamps and furniture; but when this article first appeared he was admired for simply having served as an apprentice to Constantin Brancussi.

Click here to read a 1946 art review concerning the paintings of French architect Le-Corbusier.

 

 
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