Paul Rand, born Peretz Rosenbaum on August 15, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York, was an Orthodox Jew. This is significant because Jewish law prohibits the “creation of graven images that can be worshiped as idols”, which made his development of icons attached to global capitalism seem “unlikely”. Although Rand studied at the Pratt Institute (1929-1932), the Parsons School of Design (1932-1933), and the Art Students League (1933-1934), in New York, he was viewed as having been self-taught, “learning about the works of Cassandre and Moholy-Nagy from European magazines”. Rand was one of the originators of the Swiss Style of graphic design, and also taught design at the Yale University from 1956 to 1969, and resuming in 1974.
Rand. Corporate Logos
First line (from left to right): ABC (1962), Cummins (1962), UPS (1961), Tipton Lakes (1980).
Second line (from left to right): Yale University Press (1986), Westinghouse (1960), NeXT (1986), Hilbros Watch company (1944).
In terms of his career, Rand started out creating stock images for a syndicate supplier to newspapers and magazines, on a part-time basis. Simultaneously, he amassed a large portfolio of work, including pieces from his classes; “largely influenced by the German advertising style Sachplakat (ornamental poster) as well as the works of Gustav Jensen.” At this time, he decided to disguise the obvious Jewish identity of his name, shortening his given name and adopting “Rand” from an uncle; which served as his first work in corporate identity and is said to be his most endearing symbol and brand created. Rand’s defining corporate identity was his IBM logo in 1956; modified in 1960, and further (to the striped logo) in 1972.
In ‘A Designer’s Art’, Rand showed favour for works by the likes of Paul Cezanne and Jan Tschichold, and appreciation for modernist philosophy and its “underlying connections:
‘From Impressionism to Pop Art, the commonplace and even the comic strip have become ingredients for the artist’s caldron. What Cezanne did with apples, Picasso with guitars, Leger with machines, Schwitters with rubbish, and Duchamp with urinals makes it clear that revelation does not depend upon grandiose concepts. The problem of the artist is to defamiliarize the ordinary’.”
Deconstructing the idea of recognition of what appears simple was critical to Rand’s design choices. In creating packaging for light bulbs by Westinghouse, he was able to execute these ideas. Rand was inducted into the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 1972, and died of cancer on November 26, 1996.
Works influenced/inspired by Rand
Paul Rand: A Brief Biography. Retrieved October 18, 2015, from http://www.paul-rand.com/foundation/biography/#.ViSJivlViko
Paul Rand. Retrieved October 18, 2015, from http://www.iconofgraphics.com/paul-rand/