on "DDB NEWS" February issue, 1974
Krone on Brodovitch
His Course Was
a "Little Bauhaus"
(This is Helmut Krone's answer to a request from a student in England for comments on Alexey Brodovitch, under whom Krone studied in 1946-47, and about whom the student is preparing a thesis.
It was from Brodovitch, says Krone, that he learned the true meaning of the word "inventive." Read on.-The Editor)
I studied with Brodovitch at the New School for Social Research here in New York City, 1946-47. This course was filled with working professionals and was called "Graphic Journalism." It's amazing how many people, later to become famous, attended: Richard Avedon, photographer; Bob Gage, art director of Doyle Dane Bernbach; Henry Wolf, later to become art director of Esquire and Harper's Bazaar.
It was our little Bauhaus.
We did the assignments at home and he'd criticize them in class.
Then at the end of the session he'd assign the next week's project.
He preferred fresh thinking to meticulous craftsmanship.
The most important thing I learned from him was the true meaning of the word "inventive" in regard to painting, photography, type and graphic design.
He was impatient with the familiar.
He'd brush a piece off his desk saying, "I've seen something like this before.
" You couldn't con him.
You couldn't slip him anything that resembled even the avant-gardists of the time Picasso, Steinberg, Paul Rand, et al.
If you tried, it slid off the side of his desk.
I'll give you an example: the assignment he'd given us the previous week was, "Do me something on New York, anything.
ーDo a dance if you wish.
A sculpture, a painting, an ad or make a noise.
Anything that conveys New York" Next week I brought in my week's labor.
It was the grid from an egg crate.
And in each of the squares I'd pasted photos of crowd scenes.
Not too neatly because I knew craftsmanship made him suspicious.
I placed this thing on his desk up on end.
At least it was taller than the other work.
Strange how the photographers in the group presented him with shots, the illustrators gave him watercolors of Fifth Ave. and the designers made skyscrapers out of type.
But mine at least was unexpected - I thought.
Well, he wiped it away saying, "It reminds me of a lot of exhibit design and window displays."
I went to class each week with Bill Charmatz, now a well-known illustrator.
He also brought in his assignment on New York.
As Brodovitch was finishing his critique of the week's work, Charmatz walked up and put two bricks on Brodovitch's desk about three inches apart.
Then he placed a rose lying down between them and jammed the bricks together, crushing the flower.
Brodovitch was ecstatic.
"I think that is good. Yes, that is very, very good."