Sunday, June 17, 2012

Translucent color and light: Morton Goldsholl and graphic design modernism

The image above is the title page from a 1948 textbook on color theory by Egbert Jacobsen. The book was designed and illustrated by Chicago based graphic designer, Morton Goldsholl. In this particular design Goldsholl gives the sensation of translucent color and color boundaries while the typography is nuanced, yet graphically bold. Goldsholl studied under Moholy-Nagy at the New Bauhaus in Chicago in the late 1930s. Basic Color: An Interpretation of the Ostwald Theory was written by Egbert Jacobsen and published by Paul Theobald, Chicago in 1948.

This image is a black and white version of the previous piece from a June 1962 article in American Artist titled “Graphic Arts: U.S.A.” In the caption Eugene Ettenberg describes the design as an “Early use of piggyback typography.” [1]

Obviously, the element of color in art and graphic design has the power to express boldness, mood, or a nuanced idea.  R. Roger Remington has written that, “Morton Goldsholl, a student of Moholy-Nagy’s, began his business in Chicago and put into practice many of the principles he had learned from his teacher about light, sequence and formalism in design.” [2]

Moholy-Nagy was convinced that design could make a better world. Egbert Jacobson was the knowledgeable and progressive corporate designer for the Container Corporation and one of the founder’s of CCA’s Center for Advance Research in Design.

Goldsholl’s sans serif typography and design is indicative of formal principles by twentieth century Cubists’ straight and curved lines along with color combinations influenced by the Futurists’ blend of art and science. The classical composition juxtaposes well the bold sans serif typography of “Basic Color” and is balanced by the smaller italic serif type for the subhead, “An Interpretation of the Ostwald Theory”. Goldsholl’s layout is derived from the ideology of Mondrian’s division of space.

In 1991 Goldsholl had a wonderful retrospective show, which was organized by the American Center for Design (ACD) and displayed in their gallery on East Ontario Street. The ACD was formerly the Society of Typographic Arts (STA). The opening reception was a special moment that included Morton’s wife, business partner and design collaborator Millie as well as their children and their families.

  1. Ettenberg, Eugene M. “Graphic Arts: U.S.A.” American Artist June 1962: 110. Print.
  2. Remington, R. Roger. American Modernism: Graphic Design, 1920 to 1960. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. 123. Print.

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