Bass. Saul Bass.

Last month, the Kemistry Gallery in London held a show presenting the poster art of legendary graphic artist Saul Bass.

Even if you don’t recognize the name, if you’re a film fan then you know his work well. If I say Vertigo, chances are one of the first things you’ll think of is that iconic movie poster of an angular black silhouette falling into blood red background. Bass is responsible for those marvelously clever, Cubist-flavored film posters from the Cold War era that absolutely summed up the tired-but-true cliche: a picture is worth a thousand words. Bass’ first work on poster art was for Otto Preminger‘s Carmen Jones and, impressed with the results, Preminger pressed Bass for ideas on the title sequences. Bass’ work helped pushed forward the artistic possibilities for opening/closing credit sequences and embarked him upon a highly successful and influential career as one of the preeminent graphic artists working in Hollywood.

I’m gutted to have missed Kemistry’s exhibit, and present a selection of their featured prints below:

Le Vieil Homme et l'Enfant (1967)
Seconds (1966)
The Human Factor (1979)
Advise & Consent (1962)

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Film writer and social media marketing professional. 2019 Social Ambassador for the 10th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival. Previously: social media associate at Warner Archive and script writer for Turner Classic Movies. Working on a Montgomery Clift biography due late 2020.

5 thoughts on “Bass. Saul Bass.

  1. Those are basically the movie posters of my moviegoing childhood.

    I think Bass must have had a lot of imitators in the 60s — so many other films had similar poster art, with minimalist/cartoon/animation with simple graphics on a contrasting background.

    They remind me of some of my favorites from the period like West Side Story and Dr. Strangelove, which I’m guessing were by others, but in the same style.

  2. How funny you picked up on those particular titles: Saul Bass DID West Side Story and directly influenced Pablo Ferro’s work on Strangelove!

  3. His posters truly are works of art. My favorite is the Advise and Consent poster. I like in a simple way you know a story is about to “break” in Washington. Interesting too that he made posters for so many fantastic movies.

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