After fleeing the revolution in Russia, Alexey Brodovitch (1898–1971) made a name for himself as a leading graphic artist in Paris in the late 1920s. In the poster competition for the annual ball of the Union des Artistes Russes (U.A.R.) he even prevailed against more established artists including Pablo Picasso. “Bal Banal launched my career,” Brodovitch would later say, and he prominently integrated his initials into the poster. The black-and-white gradient symbolizes the transformation made possible by a mask, a motif that is shown here with freeform typography dancing all around it. Brodovitch colored the monochrome lithographs by hand in magenta and sea green and posted them on façades all over Paris, especially in the Montparnasse district. He had originally planned a negative version of the poster as well, as witnessed by a collage in the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. For the exhibition “Alexey Brodovitch: The First Art Director,” the Circle of Friends of the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich is reissuing this key work in both versions. The lithographs were produced by the Wolfensberger Lithography Studio in Zurich and individually hand-colored by the museum’s director, Christian Brändle.
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