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The Man With The Golden Arm
SAUL BASS Famous for his stylish and innovative images, Saul Bass (1920-1996) was often credited with being the "father of graphic design". Born in the Bronx, Bass studied at the Art Students League in New York and at Brooklyn College where he was taught by Gyorgy Kepes. Kepes was a Hungarian designer and art theorist who had worked with László Moholy-Nagy in 1930s Berlin. Heavily influenced by constructivism, Moholy-Nagy had also lectured at the Bauhaus and, in turn, Kepes introduced Bass to this aesthetic philosophy. After various apprenticeships in Manhattan, Bass became a freelance commercial artist, and eventually moved to Los Angeles in 1946 to take up a position as art director at the advertising agency, Buchanan & Co. By 1950 Bass had struck out on his own, establishing his own studio: Saul Bass & Associates. Initially the agency worked mainly in advertising, however Bass was forging ever-closer links with the film industry and, in 1954, this led to a commission from Otto Preminger to design the poster for Carmen Jones. With his strikingly simple flaming black and red rose, Bass began an association with Preminger that would encompass 13 films. The following year, Preminger invited Bass to work on The Man With The Golden Arm, for which Bass created the famous jagged arm; suggesting the jarring and disjointed existence of a drug addict. The image has become an icon of 1950s graphic design and, along with contemporaries Paul Rand and Erik Nitsche, Bass was pioneering a bold and arresting new style. Indeed, such was the originality of the abstract artwork for The Man With The Golden Arm that United Artists refused to have it constitute the entire publicity campaign for the film. Instead, Bass agreed to superimpose photographs of Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak and Eleanor Parker onto the U.S. campaign posters and it was these amended designs that ultimately formed the heart of the poster campaign (please see lot 82 as pictured above). Other notable Bass designs include the artwork for another Preminger film, Bonjour Tristesse, where a single teardrop encapsulates fully the futile tragedy of Françoise Sagan's novel (please see lot 84). During his career Bass collaborated with many other directors including Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Billy Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock. It was for Hitchcock that Bass produced probably one of his most famous designs; the striking artwork for Vertigo. The stark colours, disorientating spiral and suggestion of uncertainty in the typeface all combine to perfectly capture Hitchcock's style (please see lot 85). In later years, Bass worked on a number of Martin Scorsese films creating title sequences for Goodfellas, Cape Fear, and Casino. Commenting on Bass' gift of summing up the central theme of a film with just one simple yet direct image, Scorsese described his approach as creating "...an emblematic image, instantly recognisible and immediately tied to the film". The last film poster designed by Bass was for Steven Spieberg's 1993 production of Schindler's List. The poster was never actually used but, with a body of work in film title design spanning practically 40 years, it was fitting that Saul Bass' obituary in the New York Times celebrated him as "the minimalist auteur who put a jagged arm in motion in 1955 and created an entire film genre...and elevated it into an art".
The Man With The Golden Arm

Details
The Man With The Golden Arm
1956, United Artists, British quad -- 30 x 40 in. (76 x 105 cm.), (A-) framed
Art by Saul Bass
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