Design Veritas is a forum for the exploration of design, its ideas, and it's impact on our everyday lives. Great design ideas and their applications challenge us, nurture us, anger us, compell us to self-examine, and inspire us. Design Veritas explores the various disciplines of human design through the ages with the intention of showcasing how they are intertwined to provide us with a psycho-sociological understanding of human beings and our culture at a point in time.
I have been a fan of 19th and 20th Century Poster Art since I was a child and two of my favourites of the late 20th Century are Bob Peak (1927-1992) and Robert McGinnis (1926- ), two great American commercial artists, whose work had a major impact on exemplifying the American dream and the mythology of Hollywood. I am posting a tribute to both of these great artists as a means of highlighting their proficiency as commercial artists but also giving you a deeper appreciation for their work, which, by the way, is highly collectible today. Bob Peak rose to prominence in the 1950s with advertising artwork for various clients from cigarette companies, to fashion apparel manufacturers, and airlines. In the 60s, 70s and 80s, he gained worldwide prominence for his revolutionary approach to Movie Poster Design for such films as West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Camelot, Superman, Star Trek, etc. In fact, he is known as the Father of modern movie poster design, although since his death in 1992, we are no longer privileged to see his work gracing movie posters or magazine covers, such as Time or TV Guide. Peak's work exudes a strong line, bold colour, and a complex series of overlapping images that create an energy to his work that is both inspiring and playful. Robert McGinnis, also a fine commercial artist, is known as the "Master of the Female Form" in commercial artwork circles today. He rose to prominence designing covers for detective story paperback and spy thrillers in the late 50s and 60s that exemplified the raw energy and sensuality of the American ideal of femininity of the Playboy era culture of his time. He also became more prominent designing movie posters in the 1960s and 70s, having been initially recruited by United Artists ( along with Frank McCarthy) to design movie posters for the James Bond series, specifically for Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds are Forever, Live and Let Die, and the Man with the Golden Gun. Pay particularly attention to the design, composition and sensuality expressed in his design of the female form and you will instantly recognize a Robert McGinnis work whenever you come across one. Both of these artists have designed works that are not only commercially outstanding examples of late 20th Century commercial art but are also time capsules of the American Dream of the 1950s and 60s, and resonate an American exuberance and zest for living that many men the World over aspired to during the "Sex mixed with Danger" Playboy Era of the Space Race, the Cold War, Mickey Spillane, James Bond, Hugh Hefner, and Norman Mailer.
There have been very few design revolutions which, I believe, have so totally permeated all aspects of design in the 20th Century as the beautiful but rather short lived Art Deco revolution in design in the early 20th Century. It impacted all aspects of design from the fine arts ( cubism) to poster and glass design, to architecture ( railroad stations, skyscrapers such as the Empire State and Chrysler building in New York, and all the hotels of South Beach Miami), automobile and train design ( the Chrysler Air Flow, the 20th Century), furniture, household items, and interior design, artisitic design in film ( Fritz Laing"s Metropolis), fabric and clothing design and even shoe design. We admire it's decorative flavour combined with clean angular lines as it embodied a modern direction with futuristic intentions, versus the insular curves of the Art Nouveau movement which preceded it. I recall an exhibition I attended in Montreal last year at the Musee des Beaux Arts where the focus was on the evolution of Art Deco ( or as some call it, the Deco Moderne movement ) as it grew and developed in France in the 20's and then impacted Western Europe and North America well into the late 1930's. It's breadth of impact was staggering and it still impresses me today wherever I travel in Europe or North America to see it survive and mix well with other later periods of design. What other trends in design have had this pervasive impact on all aspects of modern cultural life? Bauhaus Modernism perhaps?