Mushrooms? Eggs? Snails?

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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Recently, I wrote about Plus 1, a 1938 magazine designed by Herbert Matter that looked more like it was done today. Three issues of this unique architecture and visual culture magazine, published as a compliment to the Architectural Forum, which was published by Time Inc., were produced. The second was inserted into copies of PM magazine and featured a photogram by Matter on the cover. The third was a mystery; I was not able to find it, until the folk at Kind Company (Greg D’Onofrio and Patricia Belen) kindly turned one up.

And what a surprise it was. Plus 3 is not a typically designed design magazine. The cover is more like a manifesto (even the magazine’s masthead appears unconventionally at the bottom of the page). A Moholy-Nagy photogram is the back cover. And both front and back are covered with a thin vellum paper wrapper on which is printed the contents, masthead and other pertinent information.

The manifesto on the front is by Amédée Ozenfant, the French Cubist painter and theorist, on the nature of beautiful form. “Too much incense and too much nonsense have left us almost unable to say what the word ‘beauty’ means,” he begins, adding, “The artist’s role in society: to produce beautiful forms. Beautiful art is made of forms for which we feel an instinctive need.” A true Modernist indeed.

But what about ugliness? “Certainly,” he wrote, “there is also art in ugliness, very fashionable today. It gets its strength simply from running counter to our normal desires. But all the great expressions in art, the Sumerian, the Egyptian, the architecture of Greece and Rome . . . are based on the satisfaction of our need for beautiful forms.”

Ozenfant continued, as though he were writing today, ” . . .a beautiful form is a beautiful form no matter how it was produced — by nature, or by the artistic or mathematical imagination.”

“I do not ask the snail, or the genie of the mushroom, the hen . . . if they are artists — they satisfy my need for beauty,” he concluded. “The rest is merely a question of title.”

In addition Moholy-Nagy wrote about Light; Alvar and Aino Aalto discussed their plans for Sunila, a factory and community; and the satellite town for industrial workers, called Rebbio, in Italy is featured.

Here are some pages for your enjoyment.

(See yesterday’s Nightly Daily Heller for the iPad app that sets wood type.)