Norman Bel Geddes Designs America

Norman Bel Geddes Designs America

by Donald Albrecht
     
 

Norman Bel Geddes Designs America accompanies a landmark exhibition exploring the career of Norman Bel Geddes (1893–1958), one of the 20th century’s foremost theatrical and industrial designers. This companion volume explores Bel Geddes’s life and career in comprehensive detail through nearly 100 projects, ranging from streamlined airplanes

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Overview

Norman Bel Geddes Designs America accompanies a landmark exhibition exploring the career of Norman Bel Geddes (1893–1958), one of the 20th century’s foremost theatrical and industrial designers. This companion volume explores Bel Geddes’s life and career in comprehensive detail through nearly 100 projects, ranging from streamlined airplanes, ships, and cars, to stage sets, appliances, and much more. Both the exhibition and the book bring together never-before-seen drawings, models, photographs, and films drawn from the Ransom Center’s Bel Geddes collection. He is perhaps best known for his Futurama display for the General Motors Highways and Horizons exhibit at the New York World’s Fair of 1939–40, which to this day remains a useful model for city planning and design. The exhibition is curated by Donald Albrecht, who contributed the book’s introduction and serves as its editor. In addition to Albrecht, who has written the introduction, twenty scholars have contributed essays. The exhibition I Have Seen the Future: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America opens in September 2012 at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, and will travel to the Museum of the City of New York.

Praise for Norman Bel Geddes Designs America:

“For those who have never heard of Geddes, this book will be a revelation, an introduction to a brilliant craftsman and draftsman, a master of style, the 20th century’s Leonardo da Vinci, who was able to realize everything he could imagine.” —The New York Times

“It’s worth looking back at Geddes’s . . . work to inspire us as we plan for the future.” —Fortune

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
…an exceptionally rich history and profusely illustrated career monograph…this study, with its rare sketches and forgotten artifacts, is the first significant monograph to cover all aspects of [Geddes's] work and should help him attain greater recognition. For those who have never heard of Geddes, this book will be a revelation, an introduction to a brilliant craftsman and draftsman, a master of style, the 20th century's Leonardo da Vinci, who was able to realize everything he could imagine.
—Steven Heller
Publishers Weekly
Published in conjunction with exhibitions at the Harry Ransom Center and at the Museum of the City of New York, this coffee table book is a beautiful and well-researched look at the life and work of this transformative designer. Most famous for "Futurama," an exhibit built for General Motors at the 1939-40 World's Fair, Bel Geddes's work in architectural, industrial, and stage design was hugely significant in the development of aerodynamic "streamlining" and the incorporation of futurist aesthetics into American modernism. The book features 17 essays that successfully explore all aspects of Bel Geddes's broad range of work, including pieces on his perspective and use of consumer opinion, the spiritual side of his design theories, and his work in comparison to other modernist styles. The essays are relatively short yet satisfying and informative, and best read individually, as there is a lack of textual unity when read linearly. Like the best books of this genre, this unprecedented collection features many gorgeous, previouslyunpublished drawings and photographs, including technical drawings that will please the more professional readers. This is an exemplary collection for both serious design lovers and those looking to become better acquainted with a true American innovator. 400 color and b&w illus.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
Norman Bel Geddes (1893–1958) was a visionary designer active in many fields. Edited by Albrecht (curator, architecture & design, Museum of the City of New York; Cecil Beaton: The New York Years), this first book about his life and career was published in conjunction with an exhibition at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Here, 17 well-illustrated, scholarly essays touch on different aspects of Bel Geddes’s work. Bel Geddes was largely self-taught, and his talent led to early success in theatrical design, then to a pioneering role as a product design consultant. He was also involved in architecture, graphic design, magazine art direction, market research, scriptwriting, and urban planning. Bel Geddes was a high-profile advocate of plain geometric style as the best look for an oncoming technological future. His designs could be derivative or impractical, but highly innovative concepts like the “Futurama” show at the 1939–40 New York World’s Fair caught the public’s imagination.

Verdict This valuable volume highlights Bel Geddes’s influence during the 20th century. Readers with an interest in design and designers should enjoy it.—David Conn, formerly with Surrey Libs., BC

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781419702990
Publisher:
Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
11/01/2012
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
1,010,638
Product dimensions:
10.40(w) x 12.30(h) x 1.20(d)

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