Rand, Paul: PM / A-D: PM August – September 1939. A Design Student’s Guide to the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Dr. Mehemy Fehmy Agha’s American Decade.

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August – September 1939

Paul Rand, Robert L. Leslie and Percy Seitlin [Editors]

Robert L. Leslie and Percy Seitlin [Editors]: PM [An Intimate Journal For Art Directors, Production Managers, and their Associates]. New York: The Composing Room/P.M. Publishing Co., August-September 1939 [Volume 5, No. 2]. Original edition. Slim 12mo. Perfect-bound yapped wrappers with hand stenciled (pochoir), steel die stamped lettering; and cold stamped illustration area. 100 pp. Illustrated articles and advertisements. Yapped edges lightly worn and soiled [as usual], but a very good or better copy.

5.5 x 7.75 perfect-bound digest with 100 pages of articles and advertisements. The issue is ostensibly devoted to Dr. M. F. Agha's American decade, and includes a lengthy section written and designed by the following artists/designers/publishers etc.:  Cipe Pineles, Walter Geohegan, Frank Crowninshield, Pierre Brissaud, Conde Nast, William Golden, Horst, Tobias Moss, William Fink, Ludwig Bemelmans, Dora Abrahams, Francis Brennan, William Harris, Sherman H. Raveson, J. Walter Flynn, Tom Maloney, Witold Gordon, Harry Brown, and Arthur Weiser.

The real standout of this issue is the 36-page letterpress insert A Design Student's Guide to the 1939 New York World's Fair designed by Paul Rand. A 5.5 x 7.75 booklet with 36 pages devoted to modern design as found at the 1939 New York World's Fair. John John McAndrew replaced Philip Johnson as the head of the Department of Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art and explained his criteria for inclusion in the Guide: "An honest modern design will be shaped by the exigencies of function and material, and by the formal invention of the designer. It will be free of mannerisms."

The Laboratory School of Industrial Design, established in 1936, was the first school in the United States to devote its entire curriculum to training for the various fields of so-called industrial design,  namely, product, textile, interior, advertising and display design. Every instructor on the staff must be actively engaged in his profession while teaching at the school.

The cover of this insert is widely recognized as one of the iconic images of 20th-century American Graphic Design, as has been reproduced countless times in design histories/anthologies. A classic piece of original ephemera from the most influential graphic designer of all time.

In this issue, the PM / A-D Shorts column mentions  The Laboratory School of Industrial Design, Paul Rand, Laszlo Matulay , Anthony Velonis , AIGA, Paul Strand , Norman W. Forgue and Frederic Ryder, The Spiral Press, Ted Sandler , William Golden, and Leonard Hyams.

Advertisers include The Composing Room, Merganthaler - Linotype Co., CondÈ Nast Engravers, Ludlow Typograph Co., Reba Martin, Inc., Reliance Reproduction Co., Thomas N. Fairbanks Co., Wilbar Photo Engraving, Silvertone Process Corp., The Alling and Cory Co., Crafton Graphic Co., Russell Rutter Co. Inc., Forest Paper Co., Para - Flex Engraving Co., and Graphic Arts Expo.

This edition of PM is an amazing original example of American Graphic Design.

PM magazine was the leading voice of the U. S. Graphic Arts Industry  from its inception in 1934 to its end in 1942 (then called AD). As a publication produced by and for professionals, it spotlighted cutting-edge production technology and the highest possible quality reproduction techniques (from engraving to plates). PM and A-D also championed the Modern movement by showcasing work from the vanguard of the European Avant-Garde well before this type of work was known to a wide audience.

M. F. Agha (1896 - 1978) was educated in Kiev and Paris. After working for Vogue in Berlin he was brought to the US in 1929 by publisher Condé Nast. Agha proved himself with Vogue magazine by showing that the art director was an integral part of the editorial process and was soon given the art directorship of Vanity Fair and House and Garden as well. He was a pioneer with the use of sans serif typefaces, duotones, full color photographs and bleed images. Agha led the field in the use of leading photographers of his day. Edward Steichen, Cecil Beaton, Edward Weston, Louise Dahl-Wolfe and many others. He also brought his readers the works of Masters like Matisse, Derain and Picasso years before other American magazines. He left Condé Nast Publications in 1943 (after Nast died) and became a successful freelance consultant. He served as President of the AIGA from 1953-1955 and was awarded the AIGA Gold medal in 1957. His contributions to the field of magazine publishing changed the nature of magazine design and redefined the role of the designer and art director.

If the word legend has any meaning in the graphic arts and if the term legendary can be applied with accuracy to the career of any designer, it can certainly be applied to Paul Rand (1914-1996). By 1947, the legend was already firmly in place. By then Paul had completed his first career as a designer of media promotion at Esquire-Coronet --and as an outstanding cover designer for Apparel Arts and Directions. He was well along on a second career as an advertising designer at the William Weintraub agency which he had joined as art director at its founding.  THOUGHTS ON DESIGN (with reproductions of almost one hundred of his designs and some of the best words yet written on graphic design)  had just published --  an event that cemented his international reputation and identified him as a designer of influence from Zurich to Tokyo.

A chronology of Rand's design experience has paralleled the development of the modern design movement. Paul Rand’s first career in media promotion and cover design ran from 1937 to 1941, his second career in advertising design ran from 1941 to 1954, and his third career in corporate identification began in 1954. Paralleling these three careers there has been a consuming interest in design education and Paul Rand's fourth career as an educator started at Cooper Union in 1942. He taught at Pratt Institute in 1946 and in 1956 he accepted a post at Yale University's graduate school of design where he held the title of Professor of Graphic Design.

In 1937 Rand launched his first career at Esquire. Although he was only occasionally involved in the editorial layout of that magazine, he designed material on its behalf and turned out a spectacular series of covers for Apparel Arts, a quarterly published in conjunction with Esquire. In spite of a schedule that paid no heed to regular working hours or minimum wage scales, he managed in these crucial years to find time to design an impressive array of covers for other magazines, particularly Directions. From 1938 on his work was a regular feature of the exhibitions of the Art Directors Club.

Most contemporary designers are aware of Paul Rand's successful and compelling contributions to advertising design. What is not well known is the significant role he played in setting the pattern for future approaches to the advertising concept. Rand was probably the first of a long and distinguished line of art directors to work with and appreciate the unique talent of William Bernbach. Rand described his first meeting with Bernbach as "akin to Columbus discovering America," and went on to say, "This was my first encounter with a copywriter who understood visual ideas and who didn't come in with a yellow copy pad and a preconceived notion of what the layout should look like."

Rand spent fourteen years in advertising where he demonstrated the importance of the art director in advertising and helped break the isolation that once surrounded the art department. The final thought from  THOUGHTS ON DESIGN is worth repeating: "Even if it is true that commonplace advertising and exhibitions of bad taste are indicative of the mental capacity of the man in the street, the opposing argument is equally valid. Bromidic advertising catering to that bad taste merely perpetuates that mediocrity and denies him one of the most easily accessible means of aesthetic development."

In 1954 when Paul Rand decided Madison Avenue was no longer a two-way street and he resigned from the Weintraub agency, he was cited as one of the ten best art directors by the Museum of Modern Art. The rest is design history.