Saul Bass Bits

To celebrate the release of the new Saul Bass biography, Art of the Title created this nifty visual guide to some of Bass’s most celebrated title sequences.

There’s a Saul Bass tribute at MoMA in a few hours with the book’s author Pat Kirkham along with Kyle Cooper and Chip Kidd. Tickets for non-MoMA members are at the door so get there early.

Henri

Also, now would be a good time to point out that Universe will be re-issuing Saul Bass’s only (and nearly impossible to find) illustrated children’s book next February. Henri’s Walk to Paris, written by Lenore Klein, was released in 1962. I had a copy of the book for a few years, and found it so unenjoyable that I got rid of it. It struck me as being a failure as an illustrated storybook, and my ex-library copy confirmed that–it had rarely been checked out in decades.

It surprised me that I disliked the book as much as I did because Bass had a sense of humor (and his very able and funny collaborator Art Goodman worked on the book, too). But, the book’s illustrations are excessively formalized and austere (the curse of design for design’s sake), with none of the warmth, humor or vitality that the story required. Using minimalist graphics in a children’s book is a tricky task to begin with, but it’s possible to do it well. Graphic designer Paul Rand pulled it off more successfully in titles like Sparkle and Spin and Little 1. Or simply look to the master of super-stylized children’s book illustration, Abner Graboff. In spite of its shortcomings, if you’re a Bass fan, you’ll probably want a copy of the book, and now it’s easier to find than ever before.

(Thanks, Short of the Week for the video link)


  • http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/ Michael Sporn

    The program at MoMA was good although the speakers weren’t up to par. They either had little to offer (Chip Kidd) or bubbled too effervescently and rambled on too long (Kyle Cooper). It made me appreciate John Canemaker’s similar type talks. He informs, is humorous, gets to the point, and has a planned time to move on.

    The graphic design was illuminating. The titles were brilliant, as expected, and the choice was interesting. Missing were a couple of the most famous (no one mentioned AROUND the WORLD in 80 DAYS). Less chatter would have allowed us to see more film. Although there was a lot of talk about Scorcese’s work with Bass, there was no mention of the brilliant work Don Perri did for Scorcese – Raging Bull, Taxi Driver.

    I must say I haven’t been enthralled with the cartoon animation Bass did. It all was dated in the 60s and 70s when I initially saw it. It seemed like his design sensibility left him there. That thought was doubled in last night’s show. Still dated.

  • http://www.wardjenkins.com Ward

    Henri’s Walk To Paris falls into the “too designy for its own good” category for me. It’s fascinating to see Bass attempt a children’s book, but you’re right – there’s little joy in the artwork. To tell you the truth, i’ll probably buy the book anyway!

  • Benny

    I respectively disagree Michael. I thought it was great. I feel shortchanged every time John Canemaker reads from a script during his lectures. Maybe he could give his lecture scripts to John Lithgow to read for him!