Whilst Alfred Hitchcock is undoubtedly one of the greatest directors in cinema history one cannot deny the importance of his numerous collaborators. From stars such as Cary Grant to the astounding soundtracks composed by Bernard Herrmann, there were many who helped contribute to the genius of his works. But it would be remiss to forget Saul Bass, the man responsible for creating the title sequences for Vertigo, Psycho and North by Northwest. But whilst his association with Hitchcock is perhaps his most famous partnership, Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design shows that his work went far, far beyond ‘The Master of Suspense’.
Born in 1920 in New York, Saul Bass grew up as a keen art fan and began working in graphic design just when the artform was become seen as more than ‘creating commercials’. Whilst getting steady work from film companies to design adverts, Bass became more immersed in the artistic scene and soon his work became admired for its fresh and stylish modernistic approach. Soon Bass was a hot property designing eye-catching album covers and adverts whilst working on ad campaigns for movies. When his astounding campaign and opening credits sequence for Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder became ingrained in the minds of cinema going audiences, Bass became an icon of American cinema working with likes of John Frankenheimer, Martin Scorsese and – of course- Hitchcock (for whom Bass also helped visual the infamous ‘shower scene’ in Psycho). He was even responsible for helping brand some of the best known companies in the US including AT & T and Quaker Oats.
Whilst getting steady work from film companies to design adverts, Bass became more immersed in the artistic scene and soon his work became admired for its fresh and stylish modernistic approach
Unsurprisingly, the coffee table sized volume by Jennifer Bass (Saul’s daughter) and Pat Kirkham is a gorgeous affair full of examples of his work. And whilst his cinematic work is undoubtedly a large focus of the book (which also includes a foreword from Martin Scorsese) the joy here is seeing his collected works beautifully presented. It’s a must for cinema fans as well as those with even a passing interest in graphic design.
Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design by Jennifer Bass and Pat Kirkham is published by Laurence King publishing and is available now.
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