Beyond Our Understanding

Stadium Arcadium (2006). Art direction by Gus Van Sant

 
 

 
 

Storm Thorgerson was asked to design Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Stadium Arcadium cover. Thorgerson provided at least three possible covers for the album, however, his ideas were ultimately rejected and a simple cover featuring yellow “Superman” lettering and a blue background with planets was utilized instead. Thorgerson publicly denounced the chosen artwork, stating:

 

What lay behind the cover behaviour of Red Hot Chilli Peppers was beyond mathematics, certainly beyond our understanding. For the Stadium Arcadium cover they elected to feature the title in ‘superman’ lettering which was already old fashioned in itself, plus some “planetary embroidery” and that was it! It was trite, dull and derivative completely unlike the music, which was colourful, eclectic, imaginative, positive, and endlessly inventive. I am not often inclined to publicly criticise the work of others for I see little purchase in it, but there is, in this instance a vested interest, for the Peppers turned down our offerings in favour of this piece of unadventurous graphics. How could they? And here are three of our suggestions for your curiosity, and for my petulance.

To watch the music video for Dani California, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

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Wanting to Be Big Stars

“The outside influences are always pouring in upon us, and we are always obeying their orders and accepting their verdicts. The Smiths like the new play; the Joneses go to see it, and they copy the Smith verdict.”

Mark Twain
Corn Pone Opinions
1923

 
 

 
 

“Sha, la, la, la, la, la, la

Mmm

Uh huh

I was down at the New Amsterdam

Staring at this yellow-haired girl

Mr Jones strikes up a conversation

Sha, la, la, la, la, la, la

Mmm

Uh huh

With a black-haired flamenco dancer

You know, she dances while his father plays guitar

She’s suddenly beautiful

We all want something beautiful

Man, I wish I was beautiful

So come dance the silence down through the morning

Sha la, la, la, la, la, la, la

Yeah

Uh huh

Yeah

Cut up, Maria!

Show me some of that Spanish dancin’

Pass me a bottle, Mr Jones

Believe in me

Help me believe in anything

‘Cause I want to be someone who believes

Yeah

Mr Jones and me

Tell each other fairy tales

And we stare at the beautiful women

She’s looking at you

Ah, no, no, she’s looking at me

Smilin’ in the bright lights

Coming through in stereo

When everybody loves you

You can never be lonely

Well, I’m gonna paint my picture

Paint myself in blue and red and black and gray

All of the beautiful colors are very, very meaningful

Yeah, well, you know gray is my favorite color

I felt so symbolic yesterday

If I knew Picasso

I would buy myself a gray guitar and play

Mr Jones and me

Look into the future

Yeah, we stare at the beautiful women

She’s looking at you

I don’t think so

She’s looking at me

Standing in the spotlight

I bought myself a gray guitar

When everybody loves me

I will never be lonely

I will never be lonely

Said I’m never gonna be

Lonely

I wanna be a lion

Yeah, everybody wants to pass as cats

We all wanna be big, big stars

Yeah, but we got different reasons for that

Believe in me

‘Cause I don’t believe in anything

And I wanna be someone to believe, to believe, to believe

Yeah!

Mr Jones and me

Stumbling through the Barrio

Yeah, we stare at the beautiful women

She’s perfect for you

Man, there’s got to be somebody for me

I wanna be Bob Dylan

Mr Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky

When everybody love you

Oh! Son, that’s just about as funky as you can be

Mr Jones and me

Starin’ at the video

When I look at the television, I wanna see me

Staring right back at me

We all wanna be big stars

But we don’t know why, and we don’t know how

But when everybody loves me

I’m wanna be just about as happy as I can be

Mr Jones and me

We’re gonna be big stars”

 
 

Mr. Jones is a song by American alternative rock band Counting Crows. It was released in December 1993 as the lead single and third track from their debut album, August and Everything After (1993). It was the band’s first radio hit and one of their most popular singles.

 
 

The album cover depicts handwritten lyrics to a song called August and Everything After, but the band decided against featuring the song on the album of the same name; it was not until over a decade later that it was played as part of one of their live concerts.

 
 

The band’s debut album August and Everything After was produced by American musician, songwriter, and soundtrack and record producer T-Bone Burnett. Joseph Henry “T Bone” Burnett was a touring guitarist in Bob Dylan‘s band on the Rolling Thunder Revue. And he also produced the second album by The Wallflowers, Bringing Down the Horse, released in 1996. August and Everything After became the fastest-selling album since Nirvana‘s Nevermind.

According to Adam Duritz, the song title had a hand in the naming by Jonathan Pontell of Generation Jones, the group of people born between 1954 and 1965. “I feel honored that my song Mr. Jones was part of the inspiration for the name Generation Jones. The name Generation Jones has several connotations, including a large anonymous generation, a “keeping up with the Joneses” competitiveness and the slang word “jones” or “jonesing”, meaning a yearning or craving

The primary topic of the song itself is perhaps how two struggling musicians (Duritz and bassist Marty Jones of The Himalayans) “want to be big stars,” believing that “when everybody loves me, I will never be lonely.” Duritz would later recant these values, and in later concert appearances, Mr. Jones was played in a subdued acoustic style, if at all. On the live CD Across a Wire Duritz changes the lyrics “We all wanna be big, big stars, but we got different reasons for that” to “We all wanna be big, big stars, but then we get second thoughts about that,” and “when everybody loves you, sometimes that’s just about as funky as you can be” to “when everybody loves you, sometimes that’s just about as fucked up as you can be.”

Some believe the song is a veiled reference to the protagonist of Bob Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man, based on the lyric “I wanna be Bob Dylan, Mr. Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky.” According to Adam Duritz on VH1 Story Tellers “It’s really a song about my friend Marty and I. We went out one night to watch his dad play, his dad was a Flamenco guitar player who lived in Spain (David Serva), and he was in San Francisco in the mission playing with his old Flamenco troupe. And after the gig we all went to this bar called the New Amsterdam in San Francisco on Columbus.”

In a 2013 interview, Duritz explained that the song is named for his friend Marty Jones, but that is about Duritz himself. “I wrote a song about me, I just happened to be out with him that night,” Duritz said. The inspiration for the song came as Duritz and Jones were d runk at a bar after watching Jones’ father perform, when they saw Kenney Dale Johnson, longtime drummer for the musician Chris Isaak, sitting with three women. “It just seemed like, you know, we couldn’t even manage to talk to girls, … we were just thinking if we were rock stars, it’d be easier. I went home and wrote the song,” Duritz said. He sang the song in fun, enjoying the fantasy of making it big. However, he did not realize that just months later, in December 1993, MTV would begin playing the video for the song. It was an unexpected hit song, drawing massive radio play and launching the band into stardom.

 

To listen to this song and watch the music video, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228

The Rainbow Games

The name “dachshund” is of German origin and literally means “badger dog”, from Dachs (“badger”) and Hund (“dog”). Although “dachshund” is a German word, in modern German they are more commonly known by the name Dackel or, among hunters, Teckel. Because of their long, narrow build, they are often nicknamed wiener dog or sausage dog.

Due to the association of the breed with Germany, as well as its popularity among dog keepers in Munich, the dachshund was chosen to be the first official mascot for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, with the name Waldi.

 
 

 
 

Waldi was created by German designer Otl Aicher, who amongst others was also responsible for designing the logo for German airline Lufthansa. The Dachshund was the first official Olympic mascot, as the 1968 Winter Olympics was the first to use an unofficial mascot, which was red ball on skis named “Schuss”. Waldi was designed to represent the attributes described as required for athletes — resistance, tenacity and agility.

Waldi was based on a real long-haired Dachshund named Cherie von Birkenhof, which Aicher used as a model. Although Waldi appeared variety of different color schemes, it is occasionally reported that the main scheme was designed to match the colors of the Olympic rings, ergo, blue, green yellow, orange and green. However, there were no black or red in the main scheme, which was a conscious decision on the part of Aicher to exclude those colors related to the National Socialist Party. The 1972 games were designed to be an optimistic “Rainbow Games”. Sadly, the sporting nature of the event was largely overshadowed by the Munich massacre in which eleven Israeli athletes and coaches and a West German police officer were killed. Five Black September terrorists died.

In 1966 Aicher was asked by the organisers of the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich to become the Olympic Games’ lead designer. He was asked to create a design for the Olympics that complemented the architecture of the newly built stadium in Munich designed by Günther Behnisch. Aicher consulted with Masaru Katsumie, who had designed the previous 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.

 
 

 
 

Basing his work in part on iconography for the ’64 Games, Aicher created a set of pictograms meant to provide a visual interpretation of the sport they featured so that athletes and visitors to the Olympic village and stadium could find their way around. He created pictograms using a series of grid systems and a specific bright colour palette that he chose for these Games. These designs were directly influential on the DOT pictograms, developed in 1974 by the United States Department of Transportation, which applied the same principles to standard public signage such as those for toilets and telephones; the DOT pictograms have in turn been used around the world.

 
 

 
 

Aicher used the typeface Univers for the Olympic designs. The design team produced 21 sports posters to advertise the sports at the games, using the official design colours and also including the logo and “München 1972”. The design team used a technique called “posterization” for the graphics on the posters, separating the tonal qualities from the images and using the official Munich colours for these games. This had to be produced manually as Photoshop did not exist at this time. The first of these posters that was created manually in this way was a poster of the Olympic stadium which became the official poster for these games.

Graphic Art for the Olympic Games 1972

 
 

The desire to reach the general public was also, to a large extent, the goal of the Olympic Games that took place in Munich in 1972. It was the first time that such an event was transmitted worldwide by television and, thereby, tragically also the first time a terrorist attack was viewed globally. For the first time the overall design, created by Otl Aicher, used predominantly images instead of text. Nearly 30 international artists were commissioned by the Olympic organizers and the Bruckmann-Verlag to create editions of prints especially for the Olympic Games. The goal was to unite art and sports.

These posters were displayed all around the city of Munich and around the Olympic sites. Posters were hung in twos alongside posters designed by famous artists chosen to represent this Olympics such as David Hockney, R. B. Kitaj, Tom Wesselmann, Friedensriech Hundertwasser, Victor Vasarely, Serge Poliakoff, Allen Jones, and many others.

 
 

Pierre Soulages

 
 

Josef Albers

 
 

Eduardo Chillida

 
 

Serge Poliakoff

 
 

Friedensriech Hundertwasser

 
 

Oskar Kokoschka

 
 

Hans Hartung

 
 

Ronald Brooks Kitaj

 
 

Allen Jones

 
 

Charles Lapique

 
 

Tom Wesselmann

 
 

Victor Vasarely

Wreath of Rays

The following information was written by Harvey Abrams of State College, Pennsylvania,
and is used with permission.

 
 

1972 Munich Olympics Logo

 
 

Otl Aicher originally submitted his design of a “wreath of rays” in September 1967. The Organizing committee did not like it and instructed Aicher to make alternative designs, which he did. By November 1967 the Organizing Committee still did not like his submissions and they decided to have a competition for the logo. The competition was then opened to all German artists. By April 1968 there were 2,332 designs submitted and they were all rejected. On May 8, 1968 the committee went back to Aicher’s original designs and chose an alternative – his wreath of rays within a spiral. The design by Otl Aicher was refined by another graphic artist, Coordt Von Mannstein of Koln who used a mathematical concept to make it a three dimensional optical illusion.

 
 

 
 

The design was then further refined – in color – by Victor Vasarely, and is frequently mis-identified as a Vasarely piece in art literature. This symbol was then used on all Munich Olympic publications and ads. In addition to the Spirale design, Aicher created the numerous pictograms used for each sport. Aicher also selected the color scheme of muted pastels with the intention of not using any colors that were previously in the National Socialist (Nazi) flag from the World War II era. The colors red and black are nowhere to be found in the 1972 Munich Olympic designs.

 
 

Kraft und Natur, Victor Vasarely, 1972

Letters From the Earth

Lettere della terra (Letters From the Earth), photo by Roberto Kusterle, 2004

 
 

A Goddess, not a God, was usually credited with the invention of alphabetical letters. All letters were originally symbols-the literal meaning of hieroglyph. In Egypt the art of writing was the gift of the Goddess Isis, Maat, Menos or Seshat; In Rome, that of the Goddess Carmenta or the Fata Seribunda (writer-fate); In Scandinavia, that of the Norms as Schreiberinnen, “writing-women”; in Babylon, that of the Gulses of Logos power, that is the power to create the world by means of words. That is why the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet appeared on the necklace of skulls worn by Kali Ma, perhaps the oldest Goddess of Creation. These letters were matrika “the mothers”, which brought all things into being when Kali formed them into words. The Logos Doctrine is still extant in Christian theology, though the original idea of creation by the Word has been made more abstract to conceal its primitive naiveté. In the third century A.D., Jewish mystics spoke of the biblical smith Bezaleel as an expert on alphabetical wizardry; he “knew how to combine the letters by which heaven and earth were created.”

A number of symbols systems have been devised for alphabetical letters. Here is one for the English alphabet in its present form: A, the cone, mountain, pyramid, First Cause or birth; B, mother’s breast; C, the moon; D; day, diamond, brilliance; E, the sun; F, fire of life; G, creative power; H, Gemini, dualism, the threshold; I, number one, self-hood, the axis mundi; J, tree and root, K; connections; L; power arising from the earth; M, undulating mountains; N, a serpentine path; O, perfection, completion; P, the staff; Q, the sun tethered to earth (rising or setting); R, support; S, the serpent; T, the double ax, hammer, or cross indicating conflict or sacrifice; U, the chain; V, convergence, a receptacle; W, water, waves; X, the cross of light, union of two worlds; Y, the three-way crossroads; Z, the lighting (destroyer).

Obsessive Cropping Brought to Layouts

Alexei 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 game-changing cover of “Harper’s Bazaar”, featuring Machado as first non caucasian cover model, February 1959. Photo: Richard Avedon. Art direction by Alexey Brodovitch

 
 

Harper’s Bazaar UK. February 2013. Cover star: Anne Hathaway. Photography: David Slijper

Essay On Proust

“The time-state of attainment eliminates so accurately the time-state of aspiration, that the actual seems the inevitable, and, all conscious intellectual effort to reconstitute the invisible and unthinkable as a reality being fruitless, we are incapable of appreciating our joy by comparing it with our sorrow.”

Samuel Beckett
Proust

 
 

Samuel Beckett. Photo by François-Marie Banier

 
 

Samuel Beckett wrote Proust in the summer of 1930, in response to a commission precipitated by Thomas MacGreevy, Charles Prentice, and Richard Aldington, during his stay at the École Normale in Paris. By the end of September, he delivered it by hand to Charles Prentice at Chatto and Windus. The book sold 2,600 copies by 1937, with the remaining 400 remaindered by 1941. In retrospect, Beckett dismissed it as written in “cheap flashy philosophical jargon.

The essay served double duty as its author’s aesthetic and epistemological manifesto, proclaiming on behalf of its ostensible subject: “We cannot know and we cannot be known.” In dense and allusive language, Beckett credited his current influences (notably Arthur Schopenhauer and Pedro Calderón de la Barca) and forecast his future preoccupations, reading them into the prose of Marcel Proust:

“The laws of memory are subject to the more general laws of habit. Habit is a compromise effected between the individual and his environment, or between the individual and his own organic eccentricities, the guarantee of a dull inviolability, the lightning-conductor of his existence. Habit is the ballast that chains the dog to his vomit. Breathing is habit. Life is habit. Or rather life is a succession of habits, since the individual is a succession of individuals; the world being a projection of the individual’s consciousness (an objectivation of the individual’s will, Schopenhauer would say), the pact must be continually renewed, the letter of safe-conduct brought up to date. The creation of the world did not take place once and for all time, but takes place every day. Habit then is the generic term for the countless treaties concluded between the countless subjects that constitute the individual and their countless correlative objects. The periods of transition that separate consecutive adaptations (because by no expedient of macabre transubstantiation can the grave-sheets serve as swaddling-clothes) represent the perilous zones in the life of the individual, dangerous, precarious, painful, mysterious and fertile, when for a moment the boredom of living is replaced by the suffering of being. (At this point, and with a heavy heart and for the satisfaction or disgruntlement of Gideans, semi and integral, I am inspired to concede a brief parenthesis to all the analogivorous, who are capable of interpreting the ‘Live dangerously,’ that victorious hiccough in vacuo, as the national anthem of the true ego exiled in habit. The Gideans advocate a habit of living—and look for an epithet. A nonsensical bastard phrase. An automatic adjustment of the human organism to the conditions of its existence has as little moral significance as the casting of a clout when May is or is not out; and the exhortation to cultivate a habit as little sense as an exhortation to cultivate a coryza.) The suffering of being: that is, the free play of every faculty. Because the pernicious devotion of habit paralyses our attention, drugs those handmaidens of perception whose co-operation is not absolutely essential.

Beckett went on to pinpoint his moral focus on the fundamental quandaries of human existence, disclaiming any involvement in social issues:

Here, as always, Proust is completely detached from all moral considerations. There is no right and wrong in Proust nor in his world. (Except possibly in those passages dealing with the war, when for a space he ceases to be an artist and raises his voice with the plebs, mob, rabble, canaille.) Tragedy is not concerned with human justice. Tragedy is the statement of an expiation, but not the miserable expiation of a codified breach of a local arrangement, organised by the knaves for the fools. The tragic figure represents the expiation of original sin, of the original and eternal sin of him and all his ‘soci malorum,’ the sin of having been born.

‘Pues el delito mayor
Del hombre es haber nacido.’

The final quotation is from Calderón de la Barca’s La vida es sueño (Life is a Dream), and ‘soci malorum’ is a quotation from Schopenhauer’s Studies in Pessimism.

In fact, the conviction that the world and man is something that had better not have been, is of a kind to fill us with indulgence towards one another. Nay, from this point of view, we might well consider the proper form of address to be, not Monsieur, Sir, mein Herr, but my fellow-sufferer, Soci malorum, compagnon de miseres!
In all his subsequent writings, Beckett continued to endorse this hamartiological conclusion; compare “The only sin is the sin of being born,” from a 1969 interview.

Love and Sleep with the Friend of Many Things

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (from Greek hýpnos, ‘sleep’, éros, ‘love’, and máchē, ‘fight’), called in English Poliphilo’s Strife of Love in a Dream or The Dream of Poliphilus. The book has long been sought after as one of the most beautiful incunabula ever printed. It is actually anonymous, but an acrostic formed by the first, elaborately decorated letter in each chapter in the original Italian reads POLIAM FRATER FRANCISCVS COLVMNA PERAMAVIT, “Brother Francesco Colonna has dearly loved Polia.”, that’s why this romance is said to be by Francesco Colonna.

First published in Venice in 1499 by Aldo Manutius, in an elegant page layout, with refined woodcut illustrations in an Early Renaissance style, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili presents a mysterious arcane allegory in which Poliphilo pursues his love Polia through a dreamlike landscape, and is, seemingly, at last reconciled with her by the Fountain of Venus.

 
 

 
 

The book is illustrated with 168 exquisite woodcuts showing the scenery, architectural settings, and some of the characters Poliphilo encounters in his dreams. They depict scenes from Poliphilo’s adventures, or the architectural features over which the text rhapsodizes, in a simultaneously stark and ornate line art style which perfectly integrates with the type. These images are also interesting because they shed light on what people in the Renaissance fancied about the alleged æsthetic qualities of Greek and Roman antiquities.

The typography is famous for its quality and clarity, in a roman typeface cut by Francesco Griffo, a revised version of a type which Aldus had first used in 1496 for the De Aetna of Pietro Bembo. The type was revived by the Monotype Corporation in 1923 as Poliphilus. Another revival, of the earlier version of Griffo’s type, was completed under the direction of Stanley Morison in 1929 as Bembo. The type is thought to be one of the first examples of the italic typeface, and unique to the Aldine Press in incunabula.

The psychologist Carl Jung admired the book, believing the dream images presaged his theory of archetypes. The style of the woodcut illustrations had a great influence on late-nineteenth-century English illustrators, such as Aubrey Beardsley, Walter Crane, and Robert Anning Bell.

 
 

 
 

The story begins with Poliphilo, who has spent a restless night because his beloved, Polia (literally “Many Things”), shunned him. Poliphilo is transported into a wild forest, where he gets lost, encounters dragons, wolves and maidens and a large variety of architecture, escapes, and falls asleep once more.

He then awakens in a second dream, dreamed within the first. In the dream, he is taken by some nymphs to meet their queen, and there he is asked to declare his love for Polia, which he does. He is then directed by two nymphs to three gates. He chooses the third, and there he discovers his beloved. They are taken by some more nymphs to a temple to be engaged. Along the way they come across five triumphal processions celebrating the union of the lovers. Then they are taken to the island of Cythera by barge, with Cupid as the boatswain; there they see another triumphal procession celebrating their union. The narrative is interrupted, and a second voice takes over, as Polia describes his erotomachia from her own point of view.

 
 

 
 

Poliphilo resumes his narrative after one-fifth of the book. Polia rejects Poliphilo, but Cupid appears to her in a vision and compels her to return and kiss Poliphilo, who has fallen into a deathlike swoon at her feet, back to life. Venus blesses their love, and the lovers are united at last. As Poliphilo is about to take Polia into his arms, Polia vanishes into thin air and Poliphilo wakes up.

The book is briefly mentioned in The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532–34) by François Rabelais: “Far otherwise did heretofore the sages of Egypt, when they wrote by letters, which they called hieroglyphics, which none understood who were not skilled in the virtue, property, and nature of the things represented by them. Of which Orus Apollon hath in Greek composed two books, and Polyphilus, in his Dream of Love, set down more…” (Book 1, Ch. 9.)

The 1993 novel The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte mentions the 1545 edition of the Hypnerotomachia (Ch. 3). The book is again mentioned in Roman Polanski‘s 1999 film, The Ninth Gate, based loosely on Pérez-Reverte’s novel (this time, by its Italian title, “La Hypnerotomachia di Poliphilo“).

Inspired by “The Awakened One”

Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie is the fourth album and second internationally released album by singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette, released by Maverick Records in the United States on November 3, 1998. One line in the song So Pure, inspired its album’s title.

After the massive success of Jagged Little Pill (1995), Morissette was considered one of the biggest music stars in the world, and many fans anxiously awaited a follow-up album. A dark and wandering album, the mystery of Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie began on its cover, with an image of Alanis’s mouth while laughing and the following text printed over that image that refers to The Eight Precepts of Buddhism:

 
 

We ask you to abide
by the following
moral code upon
the premises.
Please refrain from
killing
stealing
lying
sexual misconduct
taking intoxicants
playing music, singing
please dress respectfully.

 
 

Design of the cover by Stefan G. Bucher

 
 

Stefan G. Bucher (born 1973) is an American writer, graphic designer and illustrator. He is the man behind the California design studio 344 Design.

Starting his career in the United States as an art director at Portland, Oregon advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy, Bucher went on to design numerous CD packages including Brand New Day: The Remixes for Sting, the soundtrack for the motion picture The Matrix with Keanu Reeves. His design of the 17th American Photography annual received the 2001 Silver Award for outstanding complete book design by British Design & Advertising. His more recent work for clients ranging from KCRW DJ Jason Bentley to art gallery L.A. Louver, and painter David Hockney makes more frequent use of illustration and hand-lettering.

 
 

(2006)

 
 

(2011)

 
 

(2012)

 
 

Bucher created the main title typography and title design for the films The Fall, Immortals, and Mirror Mirror, all directed by Tarsem Singh. He is the author of the book All Access – The Making of Thirty Extraordinary Graphic Designers.

Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet

Sketch for a poster of Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, by Alphons Marie Mucha, 1899

 
 

Definitive version of the poster illustrated by Mucha, 1899

 
 

Mortimer, Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet. New York World, June 18, 1899

 
 

Bernhardt on stage playing the role of the tragic Prince of Denmark. The costume she did wear was possibly designed by Mucha himself

Warhol’s French Look

The French Look, blotted line drawing by Andy Warhol, 1950

 
 

The French Look is one of many shoe illustrations Andy Warhol created using a special type of line drawing known as the blotted line technique. Warhol first experimented with blotted line while still a college student at Carnegie Institute of Technology. When asked in 1978 how he got the idea, he responded, “Well, it was just that I didn’t like the way I drew. I guess we had to do an ink blot or something, and then I realized you can do an ink blot and do that kind of look, and then it would look printed somehow.” Warhol continued to craft this technique in his commercial work in New York City throughout the 1950s. Blotted line enabled him to create a variety of illustrations along a similar theme. This type of production allowed him to bring multiple ideas to clients and increase the odds one of his drawings would be chosen for the final advertisement.

Blotted line combines drawing with very basic printmaking. Warhol began by copying a line drawing on a piece of non-absorbent paper, such as tracing paper. Next he hinged this piece of paper to a second sheet of more absorbent paper by taping their edges together on one side. With an old fountain pen, Warhol inked over a small section of the drawn lines then transferred the ink onto the second sheet by folding along the hinge and lightly pressing or “blotting” the two papers together. Larger drawings were made in sections. Completing a large blotted line drawing could take quite a bit of time and multiple pressings. The process resulted in the dotted, broken, and delicate lines that are characteristic of Warhol’s illustrations. Warhol often colored his blotted line drawings with watercolor dyes or applied gold leaf.

Vito Giallo, who was hired as Warhol’s first commercial art assistant in 1953, later described how Warhol achieved the blotted line effect.

Vito Giallo:
“I was working in an advertising agency where they used his [Warhol’s] work and everybody in the studio, and it was a very good studio, couldn’t figure out how he did the blotted line… So not until I worked for him did I discover [how he did it] – and it was extremely simple – he just took a piece of Strathmore paper and folded it in half and on the left he would do the pencil drawing and then take pen and ink – india ink – and then slowly go over the line and blot it over and then go back and forth to get a perfect register. And so, in the end, we would have the copy more or less and then the original we would tear off and throw away.”

Andy Warhol from A to Z

Typographic poster by Pepe Gimeno featured on the book CaligrTipografía? (2001)

 
 

Pepe typeface (2001)

 
 

Pepe, a type face created by Spanish graphic designer Pepe Gimeno, is inspired by the calligraphy Andy Warhol used on his first illustrations which, in fact, were written by Julia Warhola, Andy’s mother. The design of this type face shows certain nonchalant allure, freshness and vitality.  It seems as if every single letter was made with a caress. It’s an uninhibited and reckless type which was awarded the certificate of excellence in Typographic Design, 2001.

 
 

Cover of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again) is a 1975 book by the American artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987).

 
 

A loosely formed autobiography by Andy Warhol, told with his trademark blend of irony and detachment, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol—which, with the subtitle “(From A to B and Back Again),” is less a memoir than a collection of riffs and reflections—he talks about love, sex, food, beauty, fame, work, money, and success; about New York, America, and his childhood in McKeesport, Pennsylvania; about his good times and bad in New York, the explosion of his career in the sixties, and his life among celebrities.

The Philosophy… was ghostwritten by Warhol’s secretary Pat Hackett and Interview magazine editor Bob Colacello. Much of the material is drawn from conversations Warhol had taped between himself and Colacello and Brigid Berlin.