Donald Albrecht Editor   Author profile provided by WorldCat
The Harry Ransom Center, the University of Texas at Austin
The Museum of the City of New York
Abrams, New York, 2012, English    List of all editions provided by WorldCat
Nonfiction, Architecture; Nonfiction, Graphic Design; Nonfiction, Product/Industrial Design
10 x 12 inches, hardcover, 400 pages, 400 color and black-and-white illustrations
ISBN: 9781419702990
Suggested Retail Price: $65.00

From the Publisher. Norman Bel Geddes Designs America accompanies a landmark exhibition exploring the career of Norman Bel Geddes (1893–1958), one of the 20th century’s foremost theatrical and industrial designers. This companion volume explores Bel Geddes’s life and career in comprehensive detail through nearly 100 projects, ranging from streamlined airplanes, ships, and cars, to stage sets, appliances, and much more. Both the exhibition and the book bring together never-before-seen drawings, models, photographs, and films drawn from the Ransom Center’s Bel Geddes collection. He is perhaps best known for his Futurama display for the General Motors Highways and Horizons exhibit at the New York World’s Fair of 1939–40, which to this day remains a useful model for city planning and design. The exhibition is curated by Donald Albrecht, who contributed the book’s introduction and serves as its editor. In addition to Albrecht, who has written the introduction, twenty scholars have contributed essays. The exhibition I Have Seen the Future: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America opened in September 2012 at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, and will travel to the Museum of the City of New York.

On 1 book list
Phil Patton

Norman Bel Geddes Designs America accompanies the first major exhibition about Norman Bel Geddes (1893–1958), at the Harry Ransom Center at University of Texas in Austin.

Bel Geddes began in theater. He became the quintessential industrial designer of the founding generation—the pop apotheosis of the profession—but Raymond Loewy, Walter Dorwin Teague, and Henry Dreyfuss ended up better known and more highly respected. At the height of his career Bel Geddes was already the object of joking New Yorker cartoons and covers.

Curator Donald Albrecht traces Bel Geddes’s career in this first full volume about him. Running through the story is the theme of theater: dramatic effects were the stuff of Bel Geddes’s earliest work, in costumes and sets for stage, and the keynote to his work in products and presentations. His designs for hardware participated in the same melodrama as his dramaturgy. His buildings and technology were more Amazing Stories magazine cover than serious proposals. There were the pod-like cars, thousands of which were deployed in the Magic Motorways of the Futurama display for the General Motors Highways and Horizons exhibit at the New York World’s Fair of 1939–40. There were amazing visionary multi-engine airliners and ocean liners. It turned out that there was a mundane reality behind all of these: the freeway traffic jams and the crowded aisles of Boeing jumbo jets or Carnival cruise lines. But dramatized and futurized, it was technological opera. Bel Geddes’s approach is seen in miniature in the cover of his book Magic Motorways, where the type is shadowed and stretched like figures in a film noir set.

The present book looks behind the wizard’s screen, with never-before-seen drawings, photos, films, and models from the Ransom Center collection. Essays by 20 scholars accompany the images. The exhibition called “I Have Seen the Future: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America” opened in Austin in September and will travel to the Museum of the City of New York in 2013.

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