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Paul Rand

(1914—1996)


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(1914–96)

One of the most influential graphic designers of the 20th century, Paul Rand's contribution to the visual environment has been striking on many fronts. This contribution was apparent in his instantly recognizable Corporate Identity designs for IBM, Westinghouse, and other large multinational corporations, his teaching at Yale University, and his writings such as Design, Form and Chaos. He was born in New York, studying at the Pratt Institute (1929–32), the Parsons School of Design (1932–3), and at the Art Students League (1933–4). Having established his own office in 1935, two years later he became art director of Esquire‐Coronet and Apparel Arts magazines, followed by Direction in 1938. His interest in European avant‐garde design (including De Stijl, Constructivism, and work at the Bauhaus), blended with his immersion in contemporary American visual culture, did much to bring about a very distinct form of advertising art in the late 1930s. He showed a willingness to use a full palette of techniques, such as typography, painting, collage, photography, and montage, combining them in an original way with his penchant for visual symbols to produce a rich and distinctive visual language. In 1941 he became advertising director at the well‐known William H. Weintraub Agency in New York, working at the centre of a creative team producing advertisements that combined type and image in a striking pictorial manner. In the mid‐1950s he became a freelance graphic design consultant to many leading American corporations. He played a highly influential role in the development of corporate identity design and logotypes which, in addition to those for IBM, the Cummins Engine Company, and Westinghouse (corporations where he worked closely with Eliot Noyes), included work for Apple, ABC Television, and the United Parcel Service. In addition to the professional influence exerted by his work from the late 1930s onwards his teaching at the Pratt Institute, the Cooper Union, and, from 1956 to 1992, the Yale School of Architecture did much to influence new generations of graphic designers. He also wrote several books and many articles on graphic design and his 1946 text Thoughts on Design made a lasting impact on the profession. Another insight to his work, influences, and beliefs was his 1985 book Paul Rand: A Designer's Art, which also included a number of reprinted essays spanning 40 years of his career. However, towards the end of his life he was also highly critical of many aspects of contemporary graphic design practice, as seen in his text Design, Form and Chaos (1994). During his career he won many design awards including Gold Medals from the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and the Art Directors Club of New York, being elected to the latter's Hall of Fame in 1972. He was also a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI).

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.


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