It is amazing what pops up on eBay from time to time. I must have created a search ages ago for “Portfolio Magazine” which popped up today as a listing in the store of Modernism101 , who specialise in out-of-print and rare design books and periodicals – a very droolworthy site for those into graphic design, typography, architecture and more.
For sale is the complete set of 1950-1951, of “Portfolio, A Magazine for the Graphic Arts” Here – Alexey Brodovitch’s legendary publication. Brodovitch’s refusal to allow advertising to mar the flow of this magazine led to its quick demise: only three issues were published from 1950 to 1951. A high point of American Graphic Design.
This information and much more is in the listing for this item on Modernism101:
Alexey Brodovitch (1898-1971) is a legend in graphic design: during his 25-year tenure as art director of Harper’s Bazaar, he exerted tremendous influence on the direction of design and photography. A passionate teacher of graphic design, advocate of photography and collaborator with many prominent photographers, Brodovitch is often credited with having a major influence on the acceptance of European modernism in America. His use of assymetrical layouts, white space, & dynamic imagery changed the nature of magazine design. He was responsible for exposing everyday Americans to avant-garde artists by commissioning work from cutting-edge artists such as Cassandre, Dali, Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, etc.
‘Portfolio’ is considered Brodovitch’s greatest achievement– although short-lived, the magazine captured the dynamic work of some of his emerging star students from his famous Design Laboratory, including Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Art Kane. The list of contents and contributors for Portfolio magazine reads like a guest list at some great event hosted by an enlightened art patron. “Producing a magazine is not unlike giving a party — the editor-in-chief has to be a good master of ceremonies.” according to Frank Zachary. Like Brodovitch, Zachary likened publication design to cinematography, where the pacing of visual sequences plays an important role. Art directing and editing are one and the same thing — you have to keep your eye on both the visual and verbal narration line.
“You have to tell two stories, one in words, one in pictures, completely separate — but like railroad track, leading to the same place.” Zachary recounted to Martin Pedersen in Graphis Publications (Zürich, Graphis Press Corp., 1992). “Astonish me!” was Brodovitch’s often quoted exhortation to students attending his “Design Laboratory” classes over the years. Though borrowing “étonnez-moi!” from the Russian ballet master Sergei Diaghilev, with this charge, Brodovitch indeed set in motion the application of the modernist ethos to American graphic design and photography. Brodovitch’s legacy was given a boost by the publication of a major monograph on his work in 2002 by Phaidon. The Phaidon book reproduces every single page of each issue of Portfolio– a very unusual tribute.
And here are some of the now iconic images of the publications: