God bless Lou Danziger

Fortune magazine cover

A few weeks ago, Lou Danziger called and told us he was willing to part with his history slide library. Noreen immediately took him up on the offer and drove to his house to retrieve the treasure. I’d seen these slides before. Many, many, many years ago I was in Lou Danziger’s history of design class. This class was after lunch in a dark, warm room. Clearly, set up for sleeping. Now I wasn’t a kiss-ass (well, sort of), but I sat next to Lou and the old slide projector and was riveted. I remember the Lou’s description of the compositional structure of a Jules Chéret poster, and the ambiguity of color of a Josef Müller-Brockmann piece, but I was especially drawn to Alvin Lustig.

There was something tragic about his short life. He went blind from diabetes, insisted on continuing to design, and died at forty. His work is sublime. As usual, Steven Heller is the authority on Lustig, and his article “Born Modern” is an insightful and comprehensive analysis. I continue to be inspired by Lustig’s book covers. Including many of his pieces, I use the cover for Lorca’s 3 Tragedies as an example of juxtaposition in my class at Art Center. I like to think that this is a tribute, teaching at the same place he studied and lectured, and using his work as the highest example of an idea.

Fortune magazine cover

Alvin Lustig book covers

Camino Real book cover

3 Tragedies book cover

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3 Wagons Full of Cotton book cover

Industrial Design magazine cover