Brodovitch, Alexey: PORTFOLIO 1 – 3 [A Magazine for the Graphic Arts]. Cincinnati: Zebra Press with Duell, Sloane and Pierce, Winter 1950 – Spring 1951.

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Frank Zachary [Editor], Alexey Brodovitch [Art Director]

Here is a unique opportunity to acquire a complete set of Alexey Brodovitch's legendary PORTFOLIO magazine from a single owner and original subscriber. Brodovitch's refusal to allow advertising to mar the flow of this magazine led to its quick demise: only three issues were published from 1950 to 1951.  These magazines truly represent a high point of American Graphic Design.


Frank Zachary [Editor], Alexey Brodovitch [Art Director]:  PORTFOLIO. A MAGAZINE FOR THE GRAPHIC ARTS. Cincinnati: Zebra Press, Volume 1, Number 1, Winter 1950. First Edition. Folio. Face-stitched with  perfect-bound wraparound thick wrappers. Unpaginated [100+ pp]. Elaborate graphic design throughout on multiple paper stocks and various printing effects. All inserts present. Black covers show a clean crease paralleling the spine. Wrappers creased and edgeworn with the bottom 5.25 inches of the spine neatly chipped away. Dried binding glue has caused the wrapper spine to separate from the textblock, but wrapper still secure via the rear panel. Look at the picture for details, its not as bad as it sounds. Former owner ink signature to title page and a few leaves lightly spotted early and late, otherwise interior unmarked and clean. Overall, a better than average copy of the scarcest of the three issues published in this magazines' short lifespan. A good copy.

Frank Zachary [Editor], Alexey Brodovitch [Art Director]: PORTFOLIO. A MAGAZINE FOR THE GRAPHIC ARTS. Cincinnati: Zebra Press, Volume 1, Number 2, Summer 1950. First Edition. Folio. Embossed and printed wrappers. Face-stitched textblock. Unpaginated. Fully illustrated. Multiple paper stocks. Bound-in inserts and fold-outs. Elaborate graphic design throughout. Embossed cover features a Charles Eames design. White glossy wrappers lightly soiled and worn with a nick to fore edge. Spine slightly age darkened. Title page thumb smudged. All inserts present. A very good copy of this easily-abused volume.

Frank Zachary [Editor], Alexey Brodovitch [Art Director]: PORTFOLIO.  THE ANNUAL OF THE GRAPHIC ARTS. Cincinnati: Zebra Press with Duell, Sloane and Pierce, Volume 1, Number 3, Spring 1951.  First Edition. Folio. Printed thick dust wrapper form fitted over plain chipboards as issued. [100] pp. Illustrated articles printed on a variety of paper stocks. All inserts present. Elaborate graphic design throughout by Alexey Brodovitch. Form fitted jacket spine nearly completely missing. Virtually all copies of this edition are severly damaged along the spine because of the assembly method and materials. The condition of this particular example is average. Dust jacket sun-faded, lightly soiled and worn to edges. The binding is tight and secure, with the textblock complete, intact and bright. A good copy.


The first issue includes 6 bound-in giftwrap paper samples, a Paul Rand trademark insert and a tipped-in Bodoni type specimen sheet,  and the highest quality printing available in the early 1950s.


  • Giambattista Bodoni: short article about his modern typeface with many illustrations.
  • Design From the Mathematicians
  • E. McKnight Kauffer: Poster Designer: includes many poster and sketchbook designs; several of the poster illustrations are full-page reproductions.
  • Xerography: New Visual Effects with Powder and Electricity
  • Trademarks by Paul Rand: short article with bound-in fold-out booklet featuring 12 trademarks.
  • Giantism: USA
  • The Good Looking Package:  includes 6 bound-in giftwrap paper samples, with information about the stores, designs,artist and producers.
  • The Gift to Be Simple: Shaker design: short article and 8 pages of illustrations of their art.
  • Saul Steinberg: short article and 7 full page illustrations of his cartoons.
  • Photography in Fashion: Portfolios by Irving Penn and Richard Avedon: Irving Penn: short article and 9 photos, 8 full-page; and Richard Avedon: short article 9 photographs, 8 full-page.
  • News Portfolio: Record album cover art by David Stone Martin; designs by Bradbury Thompson, Paul Rand, Alvin Lustig; Knoll Furniture sales brochure by Herbert Matter; miscellaneous designs by A. M. Cassandre, Jean Carlu, Raymond Loewy, Le Corbusier, Ben Nicholson, Kasimir Malevich and others.


This issue spotlights the work of Ray and Charles Eames-- one of the earliest magazines to profile the Eames Office. This edition includes an embossed cover,  bound-in wallpaper sample, several fold-outs and the highest quality printing available in the early 1950s.


  • Literary Forms: Article on typography (8 pages, 7 full-page reproductions) that reads as follows:"Rarely is the printed page considered a medium of plastic invention. Its design has become standardized, a machine-like element devoid of feeling and esthetic significance. This is cause for regret, for the variety of forms possible when typography and calligraphy are creatively used approaches that of abstract painting. On the following seven pages, Portfolio, reproduces in facsimile a number of unusual pages which possess real visual charm and excitement. First the modern and French poet Guillaume Apollinaire's sensitive arrangement of his poem IL Pleut (It Rains), trickling down through the clean white air of the page opposite like a gentle spring shower. It is followed in turn by two curious pages from an early Christian panegyric, printed in 16th Century Germany and stenciled with mysterious religious symbols--a superb example of that now extinct form of literary expression known as "carmen figurato" (figured poem). Next is a contemporary spread from Pierre Reverdy's poem Le Chant des Morts (Song of the Dead Ones), with the text in the poet's script and illustrated with lithographs by Pablo Picasso who derived the abstract form of his designs from the skull, the bone and the straight line. Last is a poem by Wu Chang-Shih, one of the greatest modern Chinese calligraphers, written in the calligraphic style known as Ts'ao-Shu, or "grass" style, because of the impromptu nature of the strokes with which are the characters are formed. For designers chafing under the conventional discipline of the printed page in seeking new directions, these pages should bring both pleasure and inspiration.
  • Charles Coiner & The Container Corp of America Art Series: art director for N.W. Ayer and Son Inc. with 14 illustrated pages, 4 in full-page color: Full page color plates-- Rufino Tamayo, Henry Moore, Morris Graves, Ben Shahn.
  • The MUMMERS Parade--a unique Philadelphia tradition captured in an amazing 6-page Pull-Out of 30+ photographs-- Sol Mednick, Ben Rose, & Philadelphia School of Art students.
  • The Amazing Vari-Typer-- the 1st word processor: 10 page illustrated article on James B. Hammond's invention--a typewriter which only the giant Linotype can match.
  • Advertising Art in 1900: 7 pgs, 25+ images-- vintage packaging, trade cards, etc.-- Yellow Kid, Soapine.
  • MIRO on the Wall-- wallpaper examples (including full color insert- "Wisconsin."): Illustrated article about wallpaper design, 6 pages, 5 of which are full-page illustrations of wallpaper designs from Katzenbach and Warren Inc.; plus a full-color sample of wallpaper titled "Wisconsin", designed by ILonka Karasz, machine-printed by offset lithography, designs by other artist with illustrations, full-page color design by Miro.
  • Joseph Low-- Linoleum Typograph: 6 page illustrated article about artist Joseph Low titled, "Linoleum Blocks and Damped Paper".
  • Cartoonist William Steig: 6 pages, five of which are full-page illustrations of his work.
  • Cattle Brands: 6 pages, 5 of which are full-page illustrations.
  • Charles & Ray Eames: 14 illustrated pages, 8 full-page pictures. Feature article Intimate look at this historic team & Santa Monica office-- 25+ photo slideshow, 30+ total images- molded plywood & layout designs-- incl. several candid shots of the architect & his wife.


This edition includes a bound-in French marbled paper sample and an original pair of 3-D glasses!


  • Ben Shahn
  • Cartier-Bresson in the Orient: 13 photographs
  • French Marble Papers: with sample marbled sheet bound in!
  • Calligraphy: with four sample pages bound in
  • Stereoscopy: 8 3-d photos: original glasses included!
  • Jackson Pollock: photgraphed by Hans Namuth
  • Hobo Signs: photo essay on hobo grafitti
  • Alexander Calder: photographed by Herbert Matter
  • Skira's Books: includes tipped-in plate from Skira's press in Geneva
  • Astronomical City: photographed by Isamu Noguchi
  • Robert Osborn

Alexey Brodovitch (1898-1971) is a legend in graphic design: during his 25-year tenure as art director of Harper's Bazaar, he exerted tremendous influence on the direction of design and  photography. A passionate teacher of graphic design, advocate of photography and collaborator with many prominent photographers, Brodovitch is often credited with having a major influence on the acceptance of European modernism in America. His use of assymetrical layouts, white space, & dynamic imagery changed the nature of magazine design. He was responsible for exposing everyday Americans to avant-garde artists by commissioning work from cutting-edge artists such as Cassandre, Dali, Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, etc.

'Portfolio' is considered Brodovitch's greatest achievement-- although short-lived, the magazine captured the dynamic work of some of his emerging star students from his famous Design Laboratory, including Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Art Kane.

The list of contents and contributors for Portfolio magazine reads like a guest list at some great event hosted by an enlightened art patron. "Producing a magazine is not unlike giving a party -- the editor-in-chief has to be a good master of ceremonies." according to Frank Zachary.

Like Brodovitch, Zachary likened publication design to cinematography, where the pacing of visual sequences plays an important role. Art directing and editing are one and the same thing -- you have to keep your eye on both the visual and verbal narration line. "You have to tell two stories, one in words, one in pictures, completely separate -- but like railroad track, leading to the same place." Zachary recounted to Martin Pedersen in Graphis Publications (Zurich, Graphis Press Corp., 1992).

"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.

Brodovitch's legacy was given a boost by the publication of a major monograph on his work in 2002 by Phaidon. The Phaidon book reproduces every single page of each issue of Portfolio-- a very unusual tribute.

This is an exceptional opportunity to acquire a complete, single-owner set of this true high point of American Graphic Design.