The Golden Age - Where Did It Go?
I came across some images of a few fantastic and imaginative layouts from some of those great magazines of '40s and '50s - like McCall's and Harper's Bazaar. These wonderful layouts, which show innovative typography and imagery, are considered to be part of the Golden Age of magazine design that came about after WWII. Oh where, oh where, have they gone?
I guess it all started with Alexey Brodovitch, the art director of Harper's Bazaar from 1934 until 1958. His approach to design consisted of layouts containing large areas of white space, varying sizes of type and imagery, and creating an overall sense of rhythmic movement. His approach was something readers of these magazines hadn't seen before and it brought an artistic flair to the periodicals.
Brodovitch's innovative style was continued by art directors including Henry Wolf (at Esquire and Harper's Bazaar) and Otto Storch (at McCall's) to page layout in large-format magazines. Storch (who was awesome!) believed that concept, text, type, and image should be inseparable in editorial design - and he showed this is grand style. Remember, this was done back in the days before Quark and InDesign, when art was photographed, developed, cut with Exacto knives, and pasted up when "camera-ready".
(He fell in love with photography and art direction after taking an evening class taught by Mister Brodovitch, while he was art director at Dell Publishing in the early '50s.)
His obituary in the New York Times states that Mr. Storch "was part of the New York School, a group of editorial and advertising designers who based layouts on unified visual ideas rather than merely embellishing the page with ornamentation." He "wed stylish typefaces and studio photography into word-pictures, so that a headline or text type was an integrated component of the illustration rather than separated from it..."
Otto Storch died in 1999 at the age of 86. It seems that his layout style died with him. We have so many page layout tools available to us these days. Why can't we bring these beautiful layouts back? Are magazine editors of today too conservative and afraid to take chances? Have we all just fallen back into what's been done over and over again and accepted the status quo? I hope not and I don't want to. Alexey Brodovitch, Henry Wolf, and Otto Storch have motivated me, and I wish to pass this on to you.