Imagine that Apple designer, Jonathan Ive, had also directed the battle sequences in 300 and had built sculptures for the fourth plinth whilst overhauling the corporate identity of Vodaphone. A new monograph suggests that even this couldn’t hope to approximate Saul Bass’ seismic impact on twentieth century film & design.
For over fifty years, Brooklyn-born Bass covered the waterfront, directing title & action sequences for classics such as Spartacus and Psycho, whilst designing iconic logos for everyone from AT&Tto Quaker Oats.
Bass created hi-fi cabinets, petrol station forecourts, public art, album covers, an Oscar-winning short and dozens of Bauhaus-influenced posters that promoted everything from Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder to environmental charities. "I want to make beautiful things," said Bass, "even if nobody cares."
Many will care a good deal for this magisterial new book. Designed by Bass' daughter Jennifer and written by Pat Kirkham, it’s packed with Bass’ sketches, storyboards and snappy aperçus (Work? It’s just serious play) and often reads like an extended conversation with the designer himself.
Bass collaborator Martin Scorsese provides the Foreword to what is a stylish and insightful tribute to the man dubbed the Matisse of the Bronx.
Saul Bass: A Life In Film & Design by Jennifer Bass, Pat Kirkham (Laurence King Publishing), £48, is out now
Words by Neil Jaworski