Paul Rand: Pioneer by Design

Paul Rand (August 15, 1914 – November 26, 1996) was one of the foremost American graphic designers of the 20th century and helped establish the so-called Swiss Style of design in the United States. Trained in the 1930s at Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, and the Art Students League, he went on to become an educator himself at Cooper Union, Pratt, and later at Yale University, where he taught graphic design in the graduate program from 1956 to 1969. He returned to Yale in 1974.

2014 marks the centennial of the birth of legendary graphic designer Paul Rand. Rand transformed conventions of visual communication for American businesses and consumer culture, and his corpus spans editorial and book design, advertising, packaging, and corporate identity, including iconic logos for IBM, UPS, Westinghouse, and many others. This exhibition explores Rand’s prolific career through a selection of objects drawn primarily from the Paul Rand papers (AOB126), which are now held by the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library. Yale

Paul Rand, IBM, 1981.
Paul Rand, IBM, 1981.
Paul Rand, Corporate logos.
Paul Rand, Corporate logos.

Rand was a versatile designer whose career can be divided into three periods. From 1937–1941, he worked in media promotion and book design; from 1941–1954, he focused more on advertising design; and from 1954 on, he began to concentrate on corporate identity programs, producing some of the most iconic logos and identity marks of the modern age including logos for IBM, Westinghouse, UPS, and ABC television.

Minuteman, 1975
Paul Rand, poster for Minuteman, 1975.
Paul Rand, Westinghouse, 1970 Annual Report cover
Paul Rand, Westinghouse, 1970 Annual Report cover.

His views on the role of the designer in commercial advertising were emphatic:

The sincere artist needs not only the moral support that his belief in his work as an aesthetic statement gives him, but also the support that an understanding of his general role in society can give him. It is this role that justifies his spending the client’s money and his risking other people’s jobs, and it entitles him to make mistakes. Both through his work and through the personal statement of his existence he adds something to the world: he gives it new ways of feeling and of thinking, he opens doors to new experience, he provides new alternatives as solutions to old problems.

Excerpted from his article ‘Advertisement: Ad Vivum or Ad Hominem?’ (Originally published in a special issue of Daedalus: The Visual Arts Today, edited by Gyorgy Kepes (Winter 1960).)

Paul Rand, poster for Aspen Design Conference, 1966.
Paul Rand, poster for Aspen Design Conference, 1966.

Paul Rand: Pioneer by Design

27 October 2014 – 30 January 2015
Sterling Memorial Library (SML), Memorabilia Room
120 High St., New Haven, CT 06511
inside 127 Wall Street entrance

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