Brodovitch, Alexey: NEW SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH ART CLASSES 1941-1942. New School For Social Research, 1941

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ART CLASSES 1941 – 1942

Alexey Brodovitch, Berenice Abbott, Stuart Davis, Fritz Eichenberg et al.


[Alexey Brodovitch] New School For Social Research: NEW SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH ART CLASSES 1941 – 1942. New York: New School For Social Research, 1941. First edition. Slim quarto. Photo-illustrated stapled self-wrappers. 28 pp. Black and white work samples. Cover photograph by Irving Lerner. Edges lightly worn, otherwise a very good copy.

5.25 x 8.25 saddle-stitched booklet with 28 pages illustrated with black and white full-page images by the faculty members of the New School For Social Research during the 1941–1942 academic year.

Each faculty member is represented by a two-page spread with a full-page piece of art and a course description/syllabus and instructors' vitae. The faculty for the 1941-42 season consisted of:

  • Camilo Egas: Painting, Murals, Drawings, Frescoes
  • Berenice Abbott: Photography
  • Alexey Brodovitch: Art applied to Graphic Journalism, Advertising, Design, Fashion
  • Ladislas Czettel: Fashion Design
  • Stuart Davis: Modern Color -- Space Compositions
  • Jose de Creeft: Sculpture in Stone
  • Fritz Eichenberg: Block Printing
  • Stanley William Hayter: Technique of Etching and Engraving
  • Yasuo Kuniyoshi: Painting and Drawing
  • Seymour A. Lipton: Modeling in Clay, Woodcarving
  • Alfonso Umana: Weaving
  • Lecturers include Amedee Ozenfant, Meyer Schapiro, Max Wertheimer, and Paul Zucker.

Alexey Brodovitch (1898-1971), legendary art director for Harper's Bazaar and his own landmark magazine Portfolio, passionate teacher of graphic design, advocate of photography and collaborator with many prominent photographers, is often credited with having a major influence on the acceptance of European modernism in America.

"Astonish me!" was Brodovitch's often quoted exhortation to students attending his "Design Laboratory" classes over the years. Though borrowing "Ètonnez-moi!" from the Russian ballet master Sergei Diaghilev, with this charge, Brodovitch indeed set in motion the application of the modernist ethos to American graphic design and photography.

Considering the number of artists, photographers and designers who claim Brodovitch as a mentor, the historical importance of this document cannot be overstated.

I attended The New School for Social Research for only a year, but what a year it was. The school and New York itself had become a sanctuary for hundreds of extraordinary European Jews who had fled Germany and other countries before and during World War II, and they were enriching the city's intellectual life with an intensity that has probably never been equaled anywhere during a comparable period of time. — Marlon Brando

The New School for Social Research was founded by a group of university professors and intellectuals in 1919 as a modern, progressive free school where adult students could "seek an unbiased understanding of the existing order, its genesis, growth and present working." The school was conceived and founded during a period of fevered nationalism, deep suspicion of foreigners, and increased censorship and suppression during and after the involvement of the United States in World War I.

In October 1917, after Columbia University passed a resolution that imposed a loyalty oath to the United States government upon the entire faculty and student body, the board of trustees fired Professor of Psychology and Head of the Department James McKeen Cattell for having sent a petition to three US congressmen, asking them not to support legislation for military conscription. Charles A. Beard, Professor of Political Science, resigned his professorship at Columbia in protest. James Harvey Robinson, an associate of Beard's at Columbia and Professor of History, commented on the resignation: "It is not that any of us are pro-German or disloyal. It is simply that we fear that a condition of repression may arise in this country similar to that which we laughed at in Germany." Robinson would resign in 1919 to join the faculty at the New School.

Founder Charles A. Beard had, in 1899, collaborated with Walter Vrooman at Oxford to start Ruskin Hall, a progressive institution of higher learning for workingmen. The New School would offer the rigorousness of postgraduate education without degree matriculation or degree prerequisites. It was theoretically open to anyone, as the adult division today called The New School for Public Engagement remains. The first classes at the New School took the form of lectures followed by discussions, for larger groups, or as smaller conferences, for "those equipped for specific research." John Cage later pioneered the subject of Experimental Composition at the school.

Between 1940 and 1949, the New School was host to the "Dramatic Workshop," a theatre workshop and predecessor of The New School for Drama that was founded by German emigrant theatre director Erwin Piscator. Important acting teachers during this period were Stella Adler and Elia Kazan. Among the famous students of the Dramatic Workshop were Beatrice Arthur, Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Ben Gazzara, Michael V. Gazzo, Rod Steiger, Elaine Stritch, Shelley Winters and Tennessee Williams.

From the library of Arnold Roston, a commercial artist and NYC-based art director who was very active in both the AIGA and NYC ADC, as well as holding teaching and administrative positions at Pratt and the Cooper Union. Roston worked for the Office of War information after studying under Alexey Brodovitch at the New School for Social Research. Mr. Roston passed away in December, 2005.