Sunday 2 December 2012

Saul Bass – film posters

Saul Bass was born in 1920 in New York City, to a Jewish immigrant family. A creative child, he drew constantly. For college, he attended night classes at the Art Students League where he had the fortune of studying under György Kepes, a master of the functional Bauhaus aesthetic.

In the 1940s, Bass left New York for California. He worked mostly for advertising until his first major break: a poster for the 1954 film, Carmen Jones. The filmmakers were so impressed by his poster work, they invited him to design the title credits as well. This turned out to be a game changing decision.

1954 Carmen Jones

Saul Bass stepped up the sophistication of film posters with his distinctive minimal style and he completely revolutionised the role of title credits in films. Traditionally, credits were static and drab. They were considered so un-important, they would actually be projected onto the closed curtains which would only open for the first official scene of the movie.

Bass, however, was committed to injecting life into these graphics, making them as much a part of the cinematic experience as anything else. Introducing his signature “kinetic type,” Bass’ letters dashed and moved across the screen and frequently incorporated images other than text.
Titles became a spectacle to be seen. Film reels with Bass credits were delivered to movie theaters along with a note: “projectionist – pull curtain before titles.”

Bass went on to create dozens of iconic film posters and title credits. His final projects before his death in 1996 were credits for four Martin Scorsese films: Goodfellas (1990), Cape Fear (1991), The Age of Innocence (1993) and Casino (1995).

These are some of his best known film posters: 

Stalag 17

1955 The Man with the Golden Arm

Saul Bass's enduring influence is still seen today in many references to his most iconic works like the poster above. This is a 2003 The White Stripes album cover:

2003 The White Stripes album

1956 Storm Centre

1957 Edge of the City

1957 Love in the Afternoon

1957 Saint Joan

1958 Bonjour Tristesse

1958 The Big Country

1958 Vertigo advertisement

1958 Vertigo

1959 Anatomy of a Murder

1960 Exodus

1960 Psycho

1960 Spartacus

1960 The Magnificent Seven advertisement

1961 One, Two, Three

1961 West Side Story

1962 Advise and Consent 1

1962 Advise and Consent 2

1962 Advise and Consent3

1962 Birdman of Alcatraz

1963 Nine Hours to Rama

1963 The Birds

1963 The Cardinal

1965 Bunny Lake is Missing

1965 In Harm's Way

1966 Grand Prix

1966 Seconds

1967 Hurry Sundown

1967 The Two of Us

1968 The Fixer

1970 Tell me that you love me, Junie Moon

1971 Such Good Friends

1979 The Human Factor

1980 The Shining

1993 Schindler's List


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