Burtin, Will: A-D PRESENTS W B [Envelope title]. New York: The Composing Room/A-D Gallery, 1948.

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[Envelope title]

Will Burtin, Dr. Robert Leslie, Hortense Mendel

Will Burtin, Dr. Robert Leslie, Hortense Mendel: A-D PRESENTS W B [Envelope title]. New York: The Composing Room/A-D Gallery, 1948. First edition. Slim square 12mo. Stapled, printed vellum over letterpressed self-wrappers. Printed publishers mailing envelope. 28 pp. 4-color recto only vellum sheets interlaced with letterpress printed matte paper. Elaborate graphic design throughout by Will Burtin. Vellum wrapper lightly worn and yellowed. Housed in a matching mailing envelope hand addressed to Helen Federico. A very good copy of a rare document.

6.85 x 6.75 saddle-stitched exhibition catalog with 28 pages from the exhibition held at the A-D Gallery from November 9, 1948 - January 14, 1949. Burtin interlaced 4-color vellum sheets throughout the printed textblock and achieved a multi-dimensional feel that can only be experienced in the first person.

This copy was mailed to Helen Federico in 1949 while she was Paul Rand’s assistant at the William Weintraub Agency. An interesting Association copy.

"The outstanding characteristic of the Federicos is that these two graphic artists operate successfully and maintain their artistic integrity in a world which is by and large unsympathetic to artists in general and to the problems involved in their work . . .

". . . It is perhaps not amiss in these troubled and troublesome times to note the sociological as well as the cultural contributions of sincere, gifted young artists like the Federicos. They not only seek and affirm a higher standard in the all-important communicative arts but they are in their roles of artists with integrity, are to be numbered among that small but potent minority who strive in an age of increasing "conformism" and mass-produced mediocrity to live and create as individuals, who seek inspiration rather than security in tradition, and who in their work testify to their belief in the creative vitality of the human being." -- Paul Rand: "Gene And Helen Federico" in GRAPHIS 43 [Zurich: Graphis Press 1952. Volume 8, No. 43, 1952, pg. 394].

Will Burtin (1909 -1972) studied typography and design at the Cologne Werkschule, then practiced design in Germany before emigrating to the US in 1938. He worked for the US Army Air Force designing graphics and exhibitions before becoming Art Director of Fortune magazine in 1945. His work for Fortune was marked by innovative solutions to presenting complex information in graphically understandable ways. In 1949 he established his own firm. Among his clients were the Upjohn Company, Union Carbide, Eastman Kodak and The Smithsonian Institution. Burtin's great genius was in his ability to visualize complex scientific and technological information. He created several award winning exhibitions including the 1958 model of a human blood cell. Burtin believed that through his work he could become the "communicator, link, interpreter and inspirer" who is able to make scientific knowledge comprehensible.

Burtin developed a design philosphy called Integration, in which the designer conveyed information with visual communication that is based on four principal realities: the reality of man as measure and measurer; the reality of light, color, texture; the reality of space, motion, time; and the reality of science.

Using this approach to design problems was essentially the birth of what later became known as multimedia. By integrating all four realities into a design solution, Burtin could solve seemingly insoluble puzzles.

The mid to late 40s saw Burtin expand his role in professional organizations, serving as Director of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). In 1948, Burtin's Integration: The New Discipline in Design exhibit opened at the Composing Room in New York City. In the introduction to the exhibition, designer Serge Chermayeff stated:
"This new art of 'visualization,' of giving visual form in two or three dimensions to a message, is the product of a new kind of artist functionary evolved by our complex society. This artist possesses the inclusive equipment of liberal knowledge, scientific and technical experience, and artisticability . . . Among the small band of pioneers who have developed this new language by bringing patient research and brilliant inventiveness to their task is Will Burtin."

Most noteworthy, Burtin served for 22 years as both Upjohn's design consultant and art director of its in-house publication, Scope. His work on Scope continued his use of graphics and imagery in communicating complicated journal text. He worked to create a unique corporate identity for Upjohn, a new concept at the time. For Upjohn, Burtin produced some of the most celebrated exhibits of his career: the Cell, the Brain, and Inflammation: Defense of Life. These immensely popular walk-in exhibits provided a clear, visual interpretation of abstract scientific processes.

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.