Found in the LOC: 16 Posters By Graphic Great Lester Beall


Last week marked the 83rd anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt creating the Rural Electrification Administration, one the president’s many New Deal efforts to give poor Americans an assist in catching up with urban areas. And as with all such initiatives this one came complete with a series of graphic-driven PSAs like the one above, by Lester Beall.

The unofficial grandfather of modern graphic design, Kansas-born, New York-based Beall broke free from previous realist design rules, toying with perspective, space and planes to create a new, almost collage-like three-dimensionality aimed at eye and heart alike. The designer “must work with one goal in mind—to integrate the elements in such a manner that they will combine to produce a result that will convey not merely a static commercial message, but an emotional reaction as well,” he said.

And it’s this philosophy that garnered Beall a loyal following and booming business over the next decades. While he worked for the government again later, during a Housing Authority campaign against slums, his work in the 1940s was primarily for editorial clients like the Chicago Tribune and Collier’s, the latter of whom he designed the chilling “Will There Be War?” cover featuring Churchill, and corporate entities, including Upjohn Pharmaceutical and Abbott Technologies, for whom he designed corporate magazines. Later, in the 1950s and 1960s, he pioneered modern branding for industrial giants like Caterpillar, Merrill Lynch, and International Paper deploy design to create public personas for themselves. Lester Beall died in 1969, leaving an indelible mark on our visual culture.

After the jump, 15 more Lester Beall posters from his time working for the government, mostly for Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Program, and all found in the Library of Congress.

And for more “Found in the LOC,” click here.

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Tomorrow Tuesday: “Avant Garde,” The Mag, The Font

I gotta keep this week’s Tomorrow Tuesday short, but wanted to share a bit about Avant Garde, the font Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase designed for Avant Garde, the future-thinking culture magazine Ralph Ginzburg edited from years 1968-1971.

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Paul Revere, Art Thief

Revere stole this image from Pelham.

Most of us know Paul Revere as the midnight rider who warned that the British were coming, but before that he was an artist who used his output to sway public opinion toward independence. Of his works, the most famous is of course the above depiction of the Boston Massacre, which went down 248 years ago; it’s this gruesome, blood-soaked image that helped turn the 1770 event into a turning point toward the Revolution. The thing is, though, Revere didn’t actually draw it: It was done by Henry Pelham; Revere stole Pelham’s visual, gave it some sensational flare and sold it as his own, a decision that had fateful consequences not just for the U.S., but the world.

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Found in the LOC: 12 Jessie Willcox Smith Color Plates


The Library of Congress is currently presenting a show of groundbreaking female illustrators and graphic designers in America. Called “Drawn to Purpose,” and up through October of this year, the collection features work by luminaries like fashion illustrator Grace Drayton; Mary Hollock Foote, one of the first women to work as a professional illustrator; and Jackie Ormes, a groundbreaking black female comic book creator behind the serialized story Heartbeats.

And then there’s Jessie Willcox Smith, the exceptional talent who provided countless illustrations for late 19th century and early 20th century magazines — Collier’s, Century and Harper’s, to name a few — and popular books, such as Little Women and A Child’s Book of Country Stories. Perhaps her most famous work, however, are the illustrations Smith provided for the 1916 re-issue of Charles Kinglsey’s fantastical morality tale, The Water-Babies, about a kid who drowns and must reclaim his righteousness to make it back to land.

That said, for this week’s “Found in the LOC,” and to celebrate the Library of Congress’ Drawn to Purpose show, here are a dozen of Smith’s whimsical yet sinister Water Babies water colors, all from 1916. Above, “Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby” and “Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid“.

Ten more AFTER THE JUMP.

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Found in the LOC: 27 Posters of Magic Acts, 1879-1929

To celebrate The Magicians’ third season premiere on SyFy tonight, I’ve magically moved up this week’s Found in the LOC: a collection of magic show posters from 1879-1929.

Here you’ll find lavish, mysterious, macabre and beguiling adverts for a bevy of oft-overlooked illusionists, including Frederick Bancroft, a Chicago dentist who moved to New York to become a magicians; Howard Thurston, a 1910 poster for whom is seen above and who would later team up with Harry Kellar, whose decapitation trick is advertised here; and there’s also Newmann the Great, the frontier-born, Minnesota-bred mentalist who helped pioneer the whole darn industry. And, yes, there’s at least one Harry Houdini-related art work (most of the Library of Congress’ images of the famous virtuoso are only available for special order or at the library itself.)

So, without further ado, here, for your entertainment, for your wonderment, for your delicious unique views… 26 posters of old school magic acts!

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Found in the LOC: 23 Great Edward Penfield Pics

Amid all those wonderful old bicycle adverts posted a few “Found in the LOCs” ago, there were a number of images by Edward Penfield, the granddaddy of American graphic design.

It seems unfair to his legacy not to offer his landmark images some more space. After all, Brooklyn-born Penfield popularized posters in the States, played a key role in establishing New Rochelle as an early arts colony  and was art director for Harper’s Weekly during a seminal period in American publishing

So here, in honor of Penfield and the path he forged for future illustrators, and in no particular order, are 23 of his illustrations, all sourced from the Library of Congress, which has a ton of other ones, too.

Some things that caught my eye: similarities between his style and two other artists, contemporary JC Leyendecker and current master Alex Katz; the self-possession of his women; and the sex appeal of his men.

(And for more Found in the LOC, click HERE.)

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Found in the L.O.C.: 5 X-Rays

 

I’m sure you’ve got this marked on your calendar, but just in case, today is the 122nd anniversary of German scientist Wilhelm Röntgen’s October 8, 1895, discovery of X-Rays. Yippee!

In honor of Röntgen life-altering, Nobel Prize-winning findings — a fluke that changed medicine forever: now doctors could see into the human body without all that messy slicing and dicing. – here are five early X-Ray-produced images found over at the L.O.C., the Library of Congress.

Image one, above, was taken in 1896 and comes with the caption, “Ein neues Licht legwet die Welt,” which translates to “a new light sets the world.”

See the rest after the jump.

And for more “Found in the L.O.C.,” click here!

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