The Visual Language of Herbert Matter

I am very excited about the new documentary film, THE VISUAL LANGUAGE OF HERBERT MATTER. It provides a revealing look at the fascinating life of the highly influential mid-century modern design master. He was a true multi-disciplanary designer, blurring the lines between graphic design, film, and photography. Swiss born Herbert Matter is largely credited with expanding the use of photography as a design tool and bringing the semantics of fine art into the realm of applied arts.
Herbert Matter was Inspired by Russian constructivists and taught by artists such as Fernand Léger, Le Corbusier, and A.M. Cassandre in Paris in the late 20s.  He designed a series of cutting-edge Swiss travel posters that won international acclaim for the pioneering use of photo-montage combined with type. The taciturn designer found his own unique language, which resulted in the creation of such iconic works as the corporate identity for Knoll Associates and the New Haven Railroad. He photo documented the early furniture of Charles and Ray Eames and created covers for Vogue and Arts & Architecture. He documented his contemporaries Jackson PollockWillem de Kooning and Alberto Giacometti. As a filmmaker, he directed a critically acclaimed film "Works of Calder" about his good friend Alexander Calder, with music composed by John Cage. Later in life he was a professor for photography and graphic design among Paul Rand and Josef Albers at Yale University.
His friendships with modernist thinkers and artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem deKooning, Robert Frank, Charles and Ray Eames, R. Buckminster Fuller and Alexander Calder are highlighted, as well as his over twenty years of devotion to producing an interpretative monograph of the works of Alberto Giacometti.

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Vintage Eames…

Have you ever wondered, standing in front of a fabulous piece of vintage furniture, whether you are purchasing a genuine or replica design? Be it a chair, table, lamp, or even a clock? This pair of vintage chairs really piqued my curiosity when I spotted them sitting outside an antique store. No doubt my first thought was, “Yes! I found a pair of vintage Eames fiberglass shell chairs!” When I flipped them over to see if they bore any markings on the bottom – there were none – my heart quickly sank. The base/frame was a bit questionable as well, so that didn't help with the situation neither. Still, I wasn't entirely convinced. What if these are in fact the originals and they are just so worn out that the markings were gone? So I conducted my own investigation, well, more like research really. What I came across was more than just "evidence" that the pair of chairs I saw were indeed not originals (boo!), but rather a whole lot of vintage Eames product literatures, postcards, color swatches, order forms… There is something very nostalgic and magical about these printed materials. Or maybe it’s just really refreshing to see them on such a simple and basic level. There are no bells and whistles, just good, honest designs. Got to appreciate that…

Just for fun, found this 1963 vintage Herman Miller poster/ad. If I wasn't convinced before, I am now. Not only were the pair of chairs I saw indeed fakes, and I bet they were circa 1963 too!


{ images: top, camera phone image by Peggy Wong / 2 – 6 / 7 }

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