Weekend Heller – March 15, 2013

A Terrible Loss

Martin Kace, founder of EMPAX and devoted teacher and mentor, died last week in Israel. A psychologist by training, Martin first learned his craft in fashion. He was the former CEO and CUP (Chief Underwear Pundit) of Joe Boxer, former CEO of Phat Fashions aka Phat Farm. Martin was an instructor at the New York School of Visual Arts where he teaches courses in Design and Enterprise to MFA Designer + Entrepreneur candidates. He also was on the Thesis and Admissions committees there. Martin served on a number of boards, among them Creative Time and the Tel Aviv Museum International Board of Governors. He held Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology and English Literature from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and two Masters’ Degrees in Psychology from Columbia University.

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Many designers today benefited from Martin’s generosity and guidance. He devoted himself to causes large and small. After a debilitating accident, which left him wheelchair bound, his energy and passion for non-profit and social entrepreneurship increased. He will be sorely and sadly missed.

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A Grand Collection of American Illustrations

Illustrating Modern Life: The Golden Age of American Illustration with dozens of top notch originals from the Kelly Collection is on exhibition view until March 31 at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University. And after seeing it last weekend I can attest to what a beautiful exhibition it is.

J. C. Leyendecker, Woman Kissing Cupid, 1923. Oil on canvas, 27-1/2 x 22-1/4 inches.

J. C. Leyendecker, Woman Kissing Cupid, 1923. Oil on canvas, 27-1/2 x 22-1/4 inches.

The period from the 1890s through the 1930s was the Golden Age of American Illustration. The rapid rise of popular magazines created a new audience for art—the American public—and a new demand for illustrations. The nation’s most talented artists responded by turning illustration into a sophisticated art form that gave visual life to our nation’s dreams and ideals. Drawn from one of the country’s premier collections of historic American illustration, this exhibition features original paintings by legendary artists such as Howard Pyle, N. C. Wyeth, J. C. Leyendecker, and Norman Rockwell.

When Richard Kelly began collecting in the 1970s, he started with comics and purchased an original “Doonesbury” by Garry Trudeau. He then moved on to science fiction as well as underground comics before turning his attention to golden-age illustration. “My tastes matured around this time. Comic and underground comic stuff was going through the roof, but illustration was just starting to attract me,” he told a collectors’ website. This shift in his area of collecting helped to define his mantra for the serious or budding collector: focus.

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Ruscha’s Early Books

Oliver Wood is a bookseller based in London, specializing in rare photobooks. Catalogs are issued on “general as well as subject led selections.” Wood also curates exhibitions of books, and  publishes and commissions new work. “Through these catalogues and exhibitions it is our aim to contribute further research into the history of photography as documented in the photobook.” he says.  His current catalog features some gems, not the least of which a Ed Ruscha’s earliest conceptual picture books. Here are Wood’s notes on the offerings:

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In 1963 while on a return trip from Las Vegas, Mason Williams spontaneously threw a Royal typewriter from the window of their speeding Buick Le Sabre. Several miles later they decided to return to the location, whereupon they photographed the remains of the typewriter which were strewn across the side of the road, they then gathered the broken pieces and took them to a typewriter repair shop where they could be identified. The book mimics a scientific experiment or police report.

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Real Estate Opportunities are photographs of vacant lots advertised by “For Sale” signs. “There was no conscious effort to imitate that style,” Ruscha wrote, “but at the same time it is really functioning in the same way as a real estate photographer who just goes out to shoot a picture to show somebody what the land looks like. That’s all I was doing, showing the land.”

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Crackers is based on a story by poet and musician Mason Williams, “How to Derive Maximum Enjoyment from Crackers,” which is reproduced here on the rear flap of the dust-jacket. It features a couple on a first date and takes in seduction and abandonment over a large cracker-less salad. The following year with the aid of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ruscha made Premium, a short film based on the same story which featured artist Larry Bell reprising his role as the main character.

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Japanese Posters With a Mission

In the 1930s, before militarism overtook the Japanese nation, a style of poster emerged that reflected the growing significance of the masses in Japanese society. With designs borrowed from the West, these images addressed political, economic and educational themes. Here are a few from the Pink Tentacle website.

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For more Steven Heller, check out Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility, one of the many Heller titles available at MyDesignShop.com.

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