Alexey Brodovitch was born in Russia shortly before the close of the last century. Some 73 years later he died in the remote obscurity of a small village in the south of France. For fifty years of his professional life, most of them in the United States, he was an artist, graphic designer, art director, photographer, and teacher, but above all, he was a pervasive aesthetic presence whose lasting influence was felt throughout the entire visual arts. Yet it was almost by a spin of fate that Alexey Brodovitch came to the arts. When only a callow sixteen, Alexey was caught up in the patriotic wartime fervor of 1914 Russia and ran off to join the fighting with the Russian armies. A parental decree aborted that adventure, but in exchange Brodovitch was sent to an elite military school from which he graduated to become an officer in the Czar's Imperial Hussars. Ironically, had it not been for that military episode in the life of Brodovitch, we might very well have been denied the gift of his extraordinary talents and the affluence of his special wisdom. For Russia, the glory of the war eventually tumbled into national agony. Revolutionary zeal replaced faded national pride. The ensuing social deluge swept up a wounded Alexey Brodovitch, who with the other members of his family was finally forced to seek refuge from the tide of change. The shattered family made its long odyssey to Paris, which had already become a haven for many Russian refugees. In contrast to ravaged Russia, Paris was a vibrant center of artistic movements and experiment.
Alexey Brodovitch (also Brodovich; Russian1898-1971) was a Russian-born photographer, designer and instructor who is most famous for his art direction of fashion magazine Harper's Bazaar from 1938 to 1958.
The great art director of Harper's Bazaar in a private moment with his grand daughter - taken at his farm circa 1954 Harper's Bazaar Mrs. Carmel Snow examining some layouts with Alevey Brodovitch (Kneeling), in her office. Location: New York, NY, US Date taken: December 1952 Photographer: Walter Sanders
While Brodovitch was freelancing as a designer in Paris, he was invited to establish an advertising design program at the School of Industrial Art of the Pennsylvania Museum in 1930. Carmel Snow of Harper's Bazaar saw examples of his freelance work in Philadelphia and hired him to become art director for Harper's Bazaar in 1934, a position that he held until 1958.
He taught at various art institutes in New York, such as the School of Visual Arts. He was art director at Harper's Bazaar froim 1934 until 1958. His typefaces include the slinky modern Brodovitch Albro (1950) and the stylish Vogue (1950s). He came to the United States in 1930 to start a department of advertising at the Philadelphia College of Art. There he trained students in the fundamentals of European design, while embarking on numerous freelance illustration assignments in Philadelphia and New York. In 1934 Carmel Snow, the new editor of Harper’s Bazaar, saw his design work and immediately hired him to be its art director. It was the beginning of a collaboration that was to revolutionize both fashion and magazine design, and that catapulted Bazaar past its arch-rival, Vogue. While still living in Paris, Brodovitch was offered a job by John Story Jenks, the father of a young girl Brodovitch had shown around the arts scene in Paris. Jenks, a trustee of the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Arts (currently the University of the Arts), was overwhelmed by Brodovitch's talents and asked him to head the school's Advertising Design Department. In September 1930, Brodovitch moved to Philadelphia with his wife and son to take the job. Brodovitch began teaching advertising design, creating a special department devoted to the subject. Brodovitch's task was to bring American advertising design up to the level of Europe's, which was thought to have a far more modern spirit. Before his arrival, advertising students were simply copying the magazine styles of N. C. Wyeth and Howard Pyle. The illustrations were beautiful, but had evolved from the tradition of 19th-century romantic realism, a thing of the past. Brodovitch's teaching technique, on the other hand, was unlike any other the students had been exposed to. He would always teach with a visual aid. Brodovitch would bring into class French and German magazines to examine the pages with his students, explaining the artist's work or technique. He would raise questions like, &quot;Could this line be better? Could it be like, for example, Cocteau?&quot; When not in the classroom, Brodovitch would take the class on outings around Philadelphia to see factories, laboratories, shopping centers, housing projects, dumps, and the zoo. The students were then told to make a &quot;graphic impression&quot; of what they had seen, whether a photographic interpretation, a drawing, or an abstraction. Brodovitch did not teach in the conventional sense, but rather compelled his students to discover one's inner, creative resources. &quot;Astonish me!&quot; Alexey Brodovitch challenged his students. Actually, the former creative director of Harper's Bazaar was quoting the earlier &quot;etonnez-moi!&quot; of the Russian ballet master Sergei Diaghilev, but with his charge Brodovitch set the stage for more than half a century of modernist design in America. Design - whether it was illustrational, typographic, or photographic - was obliged to be provocative and new; otherwise it would disappear within the quotidian white-noise of that which assaults us visually. &quot;I hate imitation and cliches,&quot; he said to a class in 1964; &quot;I hope we can discover a new way of communication... You should provoke me and only then can I provoke you back. I believe in this backfire technique.&quot; The model of contemporary design and photography Brodovitch promoted in his classes and promulgated in the pages of Harper's Bazaar between 1934 and 1958 was a fertile, energetic, and sophisticated laboratory - a sort of one-person Bauhaus - in which such notable photographers as Richard Avedon, Hiro, Art Kane, Arnold Newman (QT Movie 1,4M) , Irving Penn - and Ryszard Horowitz - refined their personal visions and styles.
&quot;Astonish me!&quot; Alexey Brodovitch challenged his students. Actually, the former creative director of Harper's Bazaar was quoting the earlier &quot;etonnez-moi!&quot; of the Russian ballet master Sergei Diaghilev, but with his charge Brodovitch set the stage for more than half a century of modernist design in America. Design - whether it was illustrational, typographic, or photographic - was obliged to be provocative and new; otherwise it would disappear within the quotidian white-noise of that which assaults us visually. &quot;I hate imitation and cliches,&quot; he said to a class in 1964; &quot;I hope we can discover a new way of communication... You should provoke me and only then can I provoke you back. I believe in this backfire technique.&quot; The model of contemporary design and photography Brodovitch promoted in his classes and promulgated in the pages of Harper's Bazaar between 1934 and 1958 was a fertile, energetic, and sophisticated laboratory - a sort of one-person Bauhaus - in which such notable photographers as Richard Avedon, Hiro, Art Kane, Arnold Newman (QT Movie 1,4M) , Irving Penn - and Ryszard Horowitz - refined their personal visions and styles.
Design Laboratories (workshops that taught aspiring artists and designers), making the magazine a forerunner in American graphic design against other reputable fashion and lifestyle magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair. In 1933, Brodovitch added the Design Laboratory to the classes he offered. It was meant to be a workshop for his advanced students who wanted to experiment with all aspects of design. Brodovitch shared the Bauhaus belief that you needed to educate the whole individual by directing his or her attention to a variety of modern solutions in their graphic projects.  His course description for the Design Laboratory read: The aim of the course is to help the student to discover his individuality, crystallize his taste, and develop his feeling for the contemporary trend by stimulating his sense of invention and perfecting his technical ability. The course is conducted as an experimental laboratory, inspired by the ever-changing tempo of life, discovery of new techniques, new fields of operation...in close contact with current problems of leading magazines, department stores, advertising agencies and manufactures. Subjects include design, layout, type, poster, reportage, illustration, magazine make-up, package and product design, display, styling, art directing.  The lab was split into two sections per week, one for design and one for photography. The workshops were immensely popular, and it was not unusual for more than sixty people to show up to his class on the first night. Among the photographers who attended his classes were Diane Arbus, Eve Arnold, Richard Avedon, Lisette Model, and Gary Winogrand. Garry Winogrand (14 January 1928, New York City - 19 March 1984, Tijuana, Mexico) was a street photographer known for his portrayal of America in the mid 20th century. Winogrand studied painting at City College of New York and painting and photography at Columbia University in New York City in 1948. He also attended a photojournalism class taught by Alexey Brodovich at The New School for Social Research in New York City in 1951. Winogrand made his first notable appearance in 1963 at an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. This show included Minor White, George Krause, Jerome Liebling and Ken Heyman.
1758–66: typesetter in the Vatican’s Propaganda Fide printing works. 1766: the Duke of Parma invites Bodoni to set up an run a printing works. 1768: begins working in the Stamperia Reale. 1770: opens his own type foundry. 1771: publishes his first typographical contribution &quot;Fregi e Majuscole&quot;. 1782: Charles III of Spain names Bodoni his court typographer. 1788: the book &quot;Manuale Tipografico&quot; is published, containing 100 roman, 50 italic and 28 Greek minuscule fonts. 1790: the Duke of Parma gives Bodoni permission to open his own printing works, Tipi Bodoni. The first books to be published are volumes of Greek, Roman and Italian classics. 1806: &quot;L’Oratio Dominica in CLV linguas versa&quot; is produced, set in 215 typefaces. 1818: Bodoni’s widow completes and publishes her late husband’s mighty &quot;Manuale Tipografico&quot; in two volumes, a witness to Bodoni’s entire creative working life. It contains roman, Greek, gothic, Asian and Russian fonts, and lines, borders, symbols, numbers and musical notation. 1963: the Bodoni Museum is opened in Parma.
&quot;When you first glance at them, Alexey Brodovitch's phogographs look strangely unconventional. Brodovitch, who knows as well as any of us the standardized Fifth Ave kind of flawless prints, offers us, as his own, some that are blurred, distorted, too black and spectral, or too light and faded looking, and he has even intensified these qualities in souvenirs, and he first took them to have a souvenir of ballet to keep. From the wings of from standing room, watching the performance, absorbed by a sentiment it awakened, he snapped, one may imagine, almost at random. But as you look at his results you come to see that he was steadily after a very interesting and novel subject. He was trying to catch the elusive stage atmosphere that only ballet has, as the dancers in action created it.&quot; Edwin Denly 1945/legendary photo book/&quot;Rare collection of Brodovitch's photographs of Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo from the 1930s. Kerry Purcell said of it-'one of the most successful attempts at sugesting motion in photography, and certainly one of the most cinematic and dynamic photobooks ever published. ' Using a 35mm Contax he developed techniques of blurring and graininess that would become mainstream in the 1950s and 60s. Alexey Brodovitch (1891-1971) Russian born photographer designer, started his career in France and in US ran the highly influential Design Laboratory, producing what is sometimes said to be the century's best design magazine Portfolio. As Art Director at Harpers Bazaar he ruled the roost amongs NY's fashionistas and snappers for about 20 years from 1934 to 1958, coldshouldering Diane Arbus and promoting Art Kane, Penn, Platt Lynes etc., 'Ballet' produced in 500 copies was his only book. &quot;/1945/library rebound hardcover in heavy duty red cloth/minor wear to cover with bumping to corners and spine head and foot/some removed sticker residue and light soiling to rear cover/removed card pocket and some paper damage to front pastedown/removed sticker with paper damage to rear free endpaper/very light soiling and some small corner bends to text/paper clip marks to about 7 pages, mostly to front and rear endpapers/a true gem and very scarce/limited to 500 copies. Between 1935 and 1937, Brodovitch photographed several ballet companies, including the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, during their visits to New York on world tours. Although at the time he claimed the photos were only meant to be souvenirs, they evolved into something greater. The style in which Brodovitch photographed deviated from the sharp, straight photography popular at the time. According to one colleague, his images &quot;spat in the face of technique and pointed out a new way in which photographers could work.&quot; Brodovitch released a book of these photographs in 1945, titled simply Ballet, through a small New York publisher. The book contains 104 photographs of several ballets and is divided into eleven segments, one for each ballet performance. On the contents page, Brodovitch introduces each chapter in a typographic style that emulates the feel of the dance it is describing. He photographed with a Contax 35mm camera, no flash, and with a slow film speed. The blurred figures of the dancers allow the viewer to not only feel the music, but also to follow the line of the dancer's limbs mid-step. The images beautifully capture the atmosphere on-stage, the frenzied behind-the-scenes action backstage, and the magical moments of the ballet. By bleeding the blurred, grainy pictures off the pages and into the gutters, he communicated the emotional impact of the dance without words.
Besides his work at Bazaar, his freelance work grew throughout the forties. In 1949 Frank Zachary felt the need to create an american publication focused on art and design, like there had been several in europe. When looking for an art director they thought of Paul Rand and Brodovitch. Rand appeared to be too much of an artist and not enough of an art director, so Brodovitch became director of Portfolio. Brodovitch used only type on the cover, which was unusual for american magazines at that time. He wanted to create a magazine unlike any other. The first issue of the magazine is filled with a range of design influences that formed Brodovitch's creative vision. But as they had chosen to create a no-expense-spared magazine and a rejection of any advertising at all, the magazine ended up folding after just three issues. During this time Brodovitch was frequently absent from the Bazaar office, not only because the load of jobs he was offered, but also because of his problem with alcohol. It was partly because of this heavy drinking that Brodovitch was fired from his position at Harper's in 1958. His wife Nina died in the same period and, left without a pension, his financial and physical situation worsened. He died in 1971 in a small village in southern France where he had spent the last three years of his life. Portfolio 1, winter 1950 Editors George Rosenthal and Frank Zachary. Portfolio 2, summer 1950 For the cover Brodovitch reproduced Charles Eames's design for a kite Portfolio 3, 1951 For the third cover Brodovitch reproduced strips of film from a movie by Herbert Matter.
In 1949, Brodovitch collaborated in the production of the revolutionary publication Portfolio. It has been widely acknowledged as perhaps the definitive graphic design magazine of the twentieth century. The idea for the publication came from art director Frank Zachary. He wanted to put out a magazine that focused solely on art and design, but was at the same time an outstanding example of design itself. Brodovitch was intrigued by the concept. Although he enjoyed his work at Harper's Bazaar, the limitations of space and subject matter often cramped his creative style. Portfolio freed him from the practical and aesthetic restraints to which he had grown accustomed. The pages of the publication were space for his graphic imagination to run wild. George S. Rosenthal, whose family owned a printing company dedicated to mass-market pictorial paperbacks, signed on too. With such great capital spent on publicity, Zachary and Rosenthal decided Portfolio would have to include advertising. Upon seeing the advertisements, however, they couldn't bear to ruin the look and feel of the publication by running them. It was decided that Portfolio would run without the aesthetic burden of advertising, freeing up more space for the overall design. Brodovitch was responsible for sorting through the articles and illustrations to create the spreads. Zachary described watching Brodovitch in action: He'd go through the stuff fast, really fast, and pick out always the right thing, you know, and then he would mark it up [for copying], an inch, inch and a half, two and a half inches... But anyhow, I'd go back to see him, he'd have these dam[n] 'stats all over the floor, ankle deep in them, and he would look around, pick one up, until there were six or eight or ten and then he'd lay them out and it worked... that was the magic of it, you know?&quot; Inside Portfolio, Brodovitch promoted features devoted to respected artists and designers, contributed articles on vernacular design, and made wildly imaginative layouts. The magazine encompassed an array of subject matter and design styles. Works of great French poets were interspersed with off-beat articles about graffiti by hobos. It was a beautifully composed mix-up of all things art. Unfortunately, the publication lasted only three issues. The no-expense-spared ethos of the magazine, paired with the lack of advertising, caused the magazine to quickly fold.
Hobo Signs Portfolio 2 (Annual 1951): 78-79.
Cartier-Bresson In the Orient. Thirteen Photographs. Portfolio 2 (1951): 26-27
Charles Eames Portfolio 1 (Summer 1950): 74-75.
Design From the Mathematicians Portfolio 1 (Winter 1950): 16-17
Athelia Catalogue Cover, 1929 Madelios Catalogue Sports Catalogue Cover, 1929 Bal Banal 1924 Poster for a party for Russian émigrés in Paris. The high point of his early career was achieved when Brodovitch won the coveted first prize in a poster competition for the Bal Banal. His prestige heightened by this trophy, he then began to focus on graphic design.
Behold this plywood, rope, and metal rocking chair, one of his entries in the Museum of Modern Art's 1948 International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture Design. Organized by Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., who directed MoMA's industrial design department from 1940 until its merger with the department of architecture eight years later, the competition sought furniture designed to &quot;fit the need of modern living, production, and merchandizing.&quot; Out of more than 3,000 entries received from all over the world, Brodovitch's rocking chair took third prize ($1,250) in the seating category and went on to be exhibited alongside the work of designers such as Charles Eames. One model of this chair is in MoMA's permanent collection, and another will be auctioned by Sotheby's on Friday in New York during its 20th Century Design sale. Estimated to sell for between $8,000 and $12,000, it's no longer &quot;low-cost,&quot; but it is just about what Brodovitch's prize money would be worth in 2009 dollars.
Junior Bazaar, Nov. 1946 Designed by Alexey Brodovitch and Lillian Bassman
Chicago: Ziff Davis Publishing Company. (1947).. First Edition. Quarto. Designed by Alexey Brodovitch and edited by Jacquelyn Judge. Photographer Arnold Crane's copy with his ownership signature. 60 gravure images of Paris. While not rising to the level of a classic, this title should nonetheless be included in any serious collection of Paris photobooks. Text in English by Elliot Paul. Small water stain evident on the rear board and the bottom edges of the pages, thus only a good copy in the scarce dust jacket, complete, but with several tears, chips, and tape-repairs.
Saloon society: the diary of a year beyond aspirin. Title Detail assorted pages of text and photographs Primary Artist or Studio Brodovitch, Alexey, 1898-1971, (American) Associated Artists or Studios Attie, David -- Manville, Bill, author Object Date 1960
His photos highlighted his push for experimental photography that influenced the style’s rise throughout the 1960’s (Purcell). Even though much of the book focused on photography, Brodovitch considered typographic elements, too, choosing typefaces for each section that he felt related to the ballet’s style. The introductory text, laid out simply, does not distract from the photos. Despite having pushed expressionistic and experimental photography forwards, Ballet still faced criticism early on by some professionals calling the photos “amateurish” when Brodovitch, in reality, had put in a lot of effort to dodge, burn, and airbrush the photographs to achieve the feeling he sought. The book is a prime example of how important to him was the notion of being inventive and different.
Strips of film about Alexander Calder's mobiles. The first display cabinet shows this magazine spread designed by Brodovitch. The image is composed from an enlargement of one of Jackson Pollock's action paintings to resemble dancing figures. I find the idea of extracting recognisable forms from an abstract image fascinating. The execution of this page is extremely successful as the abstract figures have a beautiful illustrative feel to them while the proportion of black to white keeps a sense of balance and perspective.