Saul Bass, The Screenwriter Of Design

1954 words - 8 pages

In the 1940s, much was changing in the world due to the effects of World War II, specifically in the parts of Europe. Suffused with dictators and totalitarian governments the artists of the era wanted to escape the environment and embark upon a new journey and a fresh start. America during that time was a capitalist with a culturally and ethnically rich background in music, films and fashion. This was the best opportunity for the artists to visit America. Thus a group of artists with their modernistic approach, went to New York City and started a new wave known as the “The New York School”. To come up with originality, the American designers inspired by the European Avante Grante/Modernistic art, added new techniques and concepts which created a complete new direction in art and design that shifted the world’s attention.

Many pioneers of the movement such as Paul Rand, Bradbury Thompson and Alex Steinwelss came up with designs that were much appreciated and attracted people and students of design. One of the students was Saul Bass (1920 - 1996). Born in New York, Bass developed an interest in design and illustrations. Studying at the Arts Student League and under Gyorgy Kepes of Brooklyn College, Bass mastered the theory of Russian Constructivism and Bauhaus Design. Though he started his work in New York it was later in Los Angeles where his career flourished. In California he was recognized by the Director Otto Preminger who hired Bass to design the poster for his movie called “Carmen Jones”. Otto Preminger was so impressed by Bass that he asked him to make the title sequence for the movie. Though Bass was mostly known for his title sequences for movies and logos of corporate companies, it was his movie posters that impacted wide range of audiences and created a legendary status.

I think the quote from Walt Whitman “Simplicity is the glory of expression”, Defines Bass’s work perfectly. Bass believed that with simplicity in design you can reveal a much bigger picture. With his use of simple geometric shapes and a blend of typography with image, Bass was able to create symbolism and reveal a whole story with just a single image. Bass also mastered the use of the nucleus of his design. When Hollywood was creating dull monotonous movie covers with the image or a painting of lead Actor and the Actress on the posters with the titles of the movie, Bass was the one who broke the stereotype with his use of pictographic images and use of silhouettes. Bass also made sure that his designs should not have a shared point of view, he wanted people to understand his designs from their own perspective.

His traditional way of making a poster for a movie was to summarize the whole story of the movie into one image. In his design for the movie poster of Alfred Hancock’s Vertigo, Bass’s concept was influenced by the storyline of the movie. The concept of the poster was to show a man and women are getting sucked into a vortex surrounded by danger, but...

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