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Movie and Logo Designer Saul Bass Celebrated with Book, MoMA Event

Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design Book Cover - P 2011

The Oscar winner who designed iconic posters for Vertigo and The Man with the Golden Arm will be celebrated at New York's Museum of Modern Art on Nov. 14

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) announced Tuesday it will celebrate the life of Saul Bass, one of the 20th century's most acclaimed designers, with an event timed to the publication of Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design, by design historian Pat Kirkham and Bass’ daughter Jennifer. The event takes place on Monday, Nov. 14, at 7 pm at MoMA in New York City. 

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The evening's special guests include Kirkman, acclaimed book designer and writer Chip Kidd; and graphic designer Kyle Cooper, who has created title sequences for movies ranging from Seven to X-Men: First Class.  The event is part of To Save and Project: The Ninth MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation, and will also feature the premiere of the Academy Film Archive's new restoration of Bass' 1968 Oscar winning short film Why Man Creates.  Tickets to the event are available online and in person at MOMA.

Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design (Laurence King Publishing, Nov. 9, 424 pages, $75) traces the career of the man who created some of the most iconic images of the late twentieth century—everything from the movie poster for Vertigo to the logos for AT&T and Quaker Oats. Bass was born in New York City in 1920 and studied at the Art Students League and Brooklyn Colllege. His big break came when he designed the Otto Preminger hired him to design the poster for 1954's Carmen Jones. He would go on to design posters and title sequences for dozens more films over the nex forty years, including Psycho, North by Northwest, Big, and Goodfellas. His last major project was Casino in 1995. Bass also designed corporate logos and packaging for more than 25 major companies ranging from the Chicken of the Sea can to AT&T's "world logo." He died in 1996.

The coffee table book lavishly illustrates Bass’ work and the images are a revelation of mid-century graphic design.  His best movie posters—Vertigo, The Man and Exodus, mixed silhouettes, bright colors, and unique typefaces to create iconic images. To see the many corporate logos Bass designed—United Airlines, Dixie cups, the United Way—is to be reminded that a day does not go by without catching a glimpse of his work.

As Martin Scorsese writes in the introduction, Bass “distilled the poetry of the modern, industrialized world ... [into] a series of crystallized images, expressions of who and where we were and of the future ahead of us.  They were images you could dream on.  They still are.”