Modern Look Photography and the American Magazine Mason Klein, Maurice Berger, Leslie Camhi, Marvin Heiferman

Publication date:
12 May 2020
Yale University Press
192 pages: 305 x 238mm
155 color + b-w illus.
Sales territories:

A fascinating exploration of how photography, graphic design, and popular magazines converged to transform American visual culture at mid-century

This dynamic study examines the intersection of modernist photography and American commercial graphic design between 1930 and 1960. Avant-garde strategies in photography and design reached the United States via European émigrés, including Bauhaus artists forced out of Nazi Germany. The unmistakable aesthetic made popular by such magazines as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue—whose art directors, Alexey Brodovitch and Alexander Liberman, were both immigrants and accomplished photographers—emerged from a distinctly American combination of innovation, inclusiveness, and pragmatism.
Beautifully illustrated with more than 150 revolutionary photographs, layouts, and cover designs, Modern Look considers the connections and mutual influences of such designers and photographers as Richard Avedon, Lillian Bassman, Herbert Bayer, Robert Frank, Lisette Model, Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, Cipe Pineles, and Paul Rand. Essays draw a lineage from European experimental design to innovative work in American magazine design at mid-century and offer insights into the role of gender in fashion photography and political activism in the mass media.

Mason Klein is senior curator at the Jewish Museum, New York.

Jewish Museum, New York
(April 2–July 11, 2021)

“As a study in how the clash of cultures, art and commerce, and words and pictures can result in innovation and beauty, Modern Look is a timely book on a golden age.”—Theo Inglis, Communication Arts