Beall, Lester: A GUIDE TO LESTER BEALL [November 19 – December 31]. New York: The Composing Room/A-D Gallery, 1945.

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Lester Beall and the A-D Gallery

Lester Beall and the A-D Gallery: A GUIDE TO LESTER BEALL [November 19 - December 31]. New York: The Composing Room/A-D Gallery, 1945. First edition. Slim 12mo. Stapled, printed vellum over letterpressed self-wrappers. 16 pp. Elaborate graphic design throughout by Lester Beall. Vellum wrapper worn and chipped along spine, but a very good or better copy. Uncommon.

5.5 x 8 saddle-stitched exhibition catalog with 16 pages from the exhibition held at the newly remodeled A-D Gallery from November 19 - December 31, 1945. "An exhibition of Beall's drawings, paintings, posters, typographic designs, photographs, packaging, magazine pages, photograms and layouts from 1933 to 1945."

Erin Malone writes: In 1936, Dr. Robert Leslie, assisted by Hortense Mendel, began showing the work of emigre and young artists in an empty room in The Composing Room offices. Called the A-D Gallery, it was the first place in New York City dedicated to exhibiting the graphic and typographic arts.

The first exhibit as described by Percy Seitlin: "A young man by the name of Herbert Matter had just arrived in this country from Switzerland with a bagful of ski posters and photgraphs of snow covered mountains. Also came camera portraits and various specimens of his typographic work. We decided to let him hang some of his things on the walls and gave him a party... the result was a crowd of almost bargain-basement dimensions, and thirsty too. Everyone was excited by the audacity and skill of Matter's work."

The A-D gallery was one of the only places in New York city for young artists to come into contact with the work of European emigres and soon became a social meeting place for designers to meet each other, as well as prospective clients and employers. Dr. Leslie knew many people in New York and went out of his way to introduce people to each other. The gallery and the magazine became mirrors of each other. Often a feature in the magazine would become a show and vice-versa.

American designer Lester Beall (1903 – 1969) was educated at Lane Technical School in Chicago and received a bachelor's degree in art history from the University of Chicago. Upon discovering the work of the European avant-garde, Beall was inspired to bring American design of the 1930s and 1940s to a higher level of effective visual communication. Self-taught, Lester Beall was one of the first Americans to have his work shown in a German monthly graphics periodical, Gebrauchsgraphik, and was one of the first Americans to incorporate the New Typography, using techniques such as photomontage, collage and the use of cut-out flat colored paper in combination with photography and economical line drawing, reworking the element of European modernism into distinctive American style. He produced solutions to graphic design problems that were unique among his American contemporaries.

Beall moved from Chicago to New York in 1935 and did work that was influential to the field of editorial design. Between 1938 and 1940, he redesigned twenty magazines for McGraw Hill, in 1946 he designed two covers for Fortune and in 1944, he began designing Scope magazine for UpJohn Pharmaceuticals which he did until 1951. In 1952, Beall opened a design office on Dumbarton Farm, his home in rural Connecticut. In 1973, four years after his death, Lester Beall was inducted into the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame.

Philip B. Meggs credits Beall with “almost single-handedly launching the modern movement in American design.” In 1973, four years after his death, the Art Directors Club of New York belatedly elected him to its prestigious Hall of Fame. Bob Plisken, who worked for Beall in the early 1940s, said on that occasion, “In my opinion, Beall did more than anyone to make graphic design in American a distinct and respected profession.”