He proclaimed that he was “born modern”. Alvin Lustig and a feature image that looks somewhat inspired from the Henri Matisse cutouts from his post-war period.Or maybe it was Matisse was inspired by Lustig for his “Jazz” series. quite possible.Other work seems connected to a post-Bauhaus look. Lustig:”As we become more mature we will learn to master the interplay between the past and the present and not be so self-conscious of our rejection or acceptance of tradition. We will not make the mistake that both rigid modernists and conservatives make, of confusing the quality of form with the specific forms themselves.”
Art Chantry: Alvin Lustig was one of the most inspiring and prolific (and maybe among the very best) graphic designers of the last half century. He designed countless book covers, advertising, magazines (including the peculiar “gentry” magazine). Unfortunately, he had the misfortune of dying before graphic design became such a popular sporting activity. The result is that nobody seems to remember him. Like William Golden or Bradbury Thompson, he’s been remaindered to that heap o’ exquisite designers thrown in the closet (and the landfill) so that we may worship at the shrine of Paul Rand (who managed to outlive all of his more talented competitors.)
Thank god that Steve Heller is working right now to save his legacy and output in a book project he is in the process of completing right now. hooray for Steve Heller, patron saint of lost designers.
A number of years ago , Steve ( Heller) hosted a series of conferences devoted to rediscovering ‘lost; design history. Sadly, I can’t remember the name of the conference series (i think it might have been “modernism & eclecticism”). At any rate, during one of those conferences I was fortunately enough to see Ivan Chermayeff give a presentation about his work and a question & answer exchange with the participants. It was marvelous to watch him and actually take the measure of him. He’s a wonderful guy.
One of the things that came up during his exchange was the interesting (and seemingly unknown) fact that Ivan apprenticed under Alvin Lustig when he was just starting out. Ivan’s father was an extremely well known and successful and cultivated modernist architect, so getting a intro the biz through a designer as accomplished as Lustig was not so big a deal to them. The way that Ivan causally mentioned it and the way that the audience seemed to quietly gasp was extremely interesting.
Even more startling to me, downright shocking even, was Ivan’s little story about how he worked with Lustig. It was fascinating. Ivan would kick back and – in his minds eye – design the piece at hand. he would then dictate to the young Ivan EXACTLY what it was to look like: “an 8 /2 x 11 sheet of white uncoated paper, start at the top, drop down 6 picas. indent 12 picas, flush left. use 10 on 12 futura gothic extended lower case….” Lustig would work through the entire design and Ivan simply recreated it! amazing, really.
The funny part of the story was when Lustig started to work out the color in his mind. Ivan said that Alvin wasn’t such a great colorist. So, he would just change it and never tell him about it. He got away with that because, at this point in his career, ALVIN LUSTIG WAS COMPLETELY BLIND!
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