Artist & Designer: Paul Rand

Few artists can revolutionize an approach to an art form, but Paul Rand did just that when he began designing graphics in the 1930s. From his early advertisements to iconic logos, Rand produced a graphic design style that would inspire and influence the postwar design ideology. 

A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around.

Paul Rand

Iconic Logos

Quality is concerned
With truth, not deception
With ideas, not techniques
With the enduring, not the ephemeral
With precision, not fussiness
With simplicity, not vacuity
With subtlety, not blatancy
With sensitivity, not sentimentality.

Paul Rand

Magazine Covers

Rand was appointed Art Director at Esquire-Coronet magazine at the young age of 23. Working in the visual language of European avant-garde movements like Bauhaus and Constructivism, he created striking, modern covers that were responsive to the times. Throughout the 1950s, he also designed, for little to no pay, for Direction magazine, where he focused more on politics and the arts. 

1910s

1914 Born August 15th in Brooklyn, NY

1930s

1932 Attends Parsons School of Design, NYC
1934 Illustrator at Metro Associated Arts, NYC
1935 Design Assistant, George Switzer Studio, NYC
1936 Art Director at Apparel Arts and Esquire (until 1941)
1938 Designs first cover for Direction magazine (until 1941)
1939 First article published about his work in PM magazine

1940s

1941 László Moholy-Nagy writes on Rand's work in AD Magazine
Exhibition, Katharine Kuh Gallery, Chicago
Art Director, William Weintraub Agency, NYC (until 1955)
1942 Teaches at Cooper Union, NYC
1946 Designs campaign for Ohrbach's department stores
Teaches at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn
1947 Authors Thoughts on Design
Exhibition, National Museum, Stockholm
1948 Exhibition, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

1950s

1950 Designs movie poster for No Way Out
1951 Designs his home in Weston, CT with his wife Ann Rand
1952 Designs campaign for El Producto Cigar Company 
1954 Recognition, Top Ten Art Directors, New York Art Directors Club
Exhibition, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Authors I Know a Lot of Things with Ann Rand
Exhibition, National Museum, Stockholm

Home of Paul and Ann Rand

Rand designed and built his Weston, Connecticut home with his architect wife Ann in 1951. Tucked away in the woods, this home, which also served as Rand's studio, was recognized as one of the best in America in 1953. Their house did not have a sleek, pristine, modernist façade, but was built seamlessly into the New England landscape. The interior was pleasant, lively, welcoming and lived-in, housing a collection of art and objects from all over the world, both high and low. Marion Rand, his second wife, said that Rand collected things "because he enjoyed to and not out of vanity or because he thought they were valuable." Some objects and furniture pictured in this article from Esquire in August 1953, can be seen in our September 2018 auction, Paul Rand: The Art of Design.

1960s

1960 Designs the Westinghouse logo
Authors Trademarks of Paul Rand
1961 Designs for Cummins Engine Company (until 1996)
1962 Designs the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) logo
Authors Little 1 with Ann Rand
1965 Authors Design and the Play Instinct
1966 Awarded Gold Medal by AIGA

1970s

1970 Authors Listen! Listen!  with Ann Rand
Exhibition, IBM Gallery, NYC
Exhibition, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond
1972 Inducted into New York Art Director's Club Hall of Fame
1973 Designs the Cummins Engine Company logo
Awarded Royal Designers for Industry by Royal Society, London
1974 Resumes teaching at Yale University (until 1996)
1979 Exhibition, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

1980s

1981 Designs the Eye-Bee-M rebus poster for IBM
1982 Designs cover for the annual AIGA Graphic Design USA
1984 Authors Paul Rand Miscellany
Exhibition, International Typeface Corporation Gallery, NYC
1985 Publishes Paul Rand: A Designer's Art
Recognition, President's Fellow Award, RISD
1986 Designs NeXt Computer logo
1988 Solo exhibition, School of Visual Arts, NYC

1990s

1992 Solo exhibition, Ginza Graphic Gallery, Tokyo
1993 Authors Design, Form and Chaos
Named Professor Emeritus, Yale University
1995 Designs logos for USSB and Enron
1996 Authors From Lascaux to Brooklyn
Exhibition, Cooper Union, NYC
Paul Rand passes away on November 26, 1996

To design is much more than simply to assemble, to order, or even edit: it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate, to simplify, clarify, and perhaps even to amuse. To design is to transform prose into poetry.

Paul Rand

Wright presents a special collection of over 300 items from the estate of Paul Rand at auction on September 13th, 2018. The sale includes his own works, as well as personal effects and art that he collected and used in his home and studio in Weston, Connecticut. This auction is a rare opportunity to see the extraordinary breadth of private and professional work done by a visionary of 20th century design. 

A selection of works in this sale are published in a bespoke, full-color catalog celebrating the creative production and collections of the iconic designer Paul Rand. 

Paul Rand 1914–1996

Paul Rand was born Peretz Rosenbaum in Brooklyn in 1914 to Orthodox Jewish immigrants. His father owned a small grocery store, for which Rand often painted signage and advertisements. As a young man, Rand studied at Parsons School of Design and Pratt Institute but never finished a degree. He found the courses unstimulating, as many of the era’s arts programs were stuck in very classical methodologies. Independently, Rand studied early 20th century European modernism, which influenced much of his early designs. He drew influence from the Bauhaus, Constructivist, Cubist and de Stijl movements, as well as the art of Paul Klee, Alexander Calder and Joan Miró.

Rand’s career led to monumental shifts in the field of American commercial design. When he began working in media promotion and magazine design in the early 1930s, there was a small group of American and European expat designers who were beginning to combine the experimental formal vocabularies of European design with the demands of American commerce. Rand employed photography, montage, collage and “new typography” — all methods popular among European modernists. These practices often produced clever, minimalist designs, which stood out from the advertising of the era, which, in an emerging industrialized culture still hobbling out of the Great Depression, was more concerned with promoting prosperity and the status quo.

Rand’s demand for high quality and intellectual rigor were made apparent early on, designing for Esquire-Coronet, Apparel Arts and most notably, Direction magazine from 1937-1941, where he often worked for little to no money in exchange for creative freedom. When he was just 23, he was given the position of art director at Esquire. During this time, he also developed the unique presentation style that he became known for: pitches were often accompanied by hefty binders of drafts, references and research, effectively exposing the design process as a methodical, searching, spiritual distillation to bring about a pure marriage of idea and image.

In 1942, Rand began designing advertising and packaging for companies such as El Producto Cigars and Ohrbach’s department stores, as well as book covers and exhibition posters. The same year, he began teaching at Cooper Union, with an appointment at Pratt following in 1946 and a position in the Yale design department from 1956 to 1992. In 1947 he published his famous Thoughts on Design, one of many books he’d write that featured his clear, concise philosophies. Insistent on a holistic vision of his life and work, Rand and his wife Ann, an architect, built their now-famous Weston, Connecticut home and studio in 1951. The home was lauded for its intimacy and singularity, for being an “enduring, essential house” and was recognized as one of the ten best American homes by Esquire in 1953.

By the 1950s, many American brands were expanding internationally, bringing about the need for corporate identity programs. In 1956, Rand was hired by IBM to help shape the company’s global brand and design their logo; he would work for IBM for three decades. Some of his most famous designs from this era are the Eye-Bee-M rebus, campaigns for Westinghouse and Cummins, and creating the ABC, UPS and NeXT logos. László Moholy-Nagy, an idol of Rand’s, saw him as the rare form of “an idealist and a realist using the language of the poet and the businessman.” Massimo Vignelli, a fellow modernist icon, noted that Rand “moved corporations to new levels of intellectual elegance.”

In 1972, Rand was inducted into the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame and received the Royal Designer for Industry award from the Royal Society of London in 1953. Paul Rand passed away in 1996 in his Weston, Connecticut home. He was working on publishing his seventh book, From Lascaux to Brooklyn, and had just completed his final logo design for the B2B online printing company Servador. His work has been the subject of retrospectives at the Museum of the City of New York (Everything is Design: The Work of Paul Rand in 2015) and The University of Michigan Museum of Art (2017) and his work is held in the collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Smithsonian and many other institutions.  

Auction Results Paul Rand

PAUL RAND, Untitled | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Untitled
estimate: $500–700
result: $18,750

PAUL RAND, collection of twenty-eight Christmas drawings | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

collection of twenty-eight Christmas drawings
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $16,250

PAUL RAND, Untitled | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Untitled
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $15,000

PAUL RAND, NeXT logo presentation book and proofs, set of four | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

NeXT logo presentation book and proofs, set of four
estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $15,000

PAUL RAND, Untitled | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Untitled
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $13,750

PAUL RAND, Untitled | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Untitled
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $13,750

PAUL RAND, Untitled | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Untitled
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $10,000

PAUL RAND, Untitled | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Untitled
estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $9,375

PAUL RAND, IBM logo guidelines and presentation books | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

IBM logo guidelines and presentation books
estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $9,375

PAUL RAND, Untitled (Washington Crossing the Delaware) | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Untitled (Washington Crossing the Delaware)
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $9,100

PAUL RAND, Death Mask poster and drawings | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Death Mask poster and drawings
estimate: $500–700
result: $8,750

PAUL RAND, sketches and text for an unpublished children’s book | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

sketches and text for an unpublished children’s book
estimate: $500–700
result: $8,125

PAUL RAND, collection of thirty-nine Ohrbach’s advertisements | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

collection of thirty-nine Ohrbach’s advertisements
estimate: $200–300
result: $8,125

PAUL RAND, Untitled | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Untitled
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $8,125

PAUL RAND, Untitled | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Untitled
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $8,125

PAUL RAND, International Design Conference, Aspen poster and brochure | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

International Design Conference, Aspen poster and brochure
estimate: $1,500–2,000
result: $7,500

PAUL RAND, Mine Boy cover sketches and final cover | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Mine Boy cover sketches and final cover
estimate: $200–300
result: $6,875

PAUL RAND, Untitled | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Untitled
estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $6,875

PAUL RAND, NeXT poster | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

NeXT poster
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $6,875

PAUL RAND, study for Shell Oil | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

study for Shell Oil
estimate: $200–300
result: $6,250

PAUL RAND, Untitled | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Untitled
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $6,250

PAUL RAND, Fortune Magazine cover study | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Fortune Magazine cover study
estimate: $200–300
result: $5,937

PAUL RAND, Untitled | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Untitled
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $5,937

PAUL RAND, Eye-Bee-M Rebus posters, set of two | Wright20.com

Paul Rand

Eye-Bee-M Rebus posters, set of two
estimate: $3,000–5,000
result: $5,937

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