Saul Bass (May 8, 1920 – April 25, 1996) was an American graphic designer and Oscar winning filmmaker, best known for his design of motion picture title sequences, film posters, and corporate logos.
15 years after his death Bass’ work is still very much alive, yet few people who claim to be inspired by him have seen much of his work. Here’s your chance to see a fraction of the work Bass has done during his long and prolific career: Saul Bass’ title sequences.
“For the average audience, the credits tell them there’s only
three minutes left to eat popcorn. I take this ‘dead’ period and try to do more than simply get rid of names that filmgoers aren’t interested in.
I aim to set up the audience for what’s coming;
make them expectant.”
— SAUL BASS
Saul Bass’ golden words: “My initial thoughts about what a title can do was to set mood and the prime underlying core of the film’s story, to express the story in some metaphorical way. I saw the title as a way of conditioning the audience, so that when the film actually began, viewers would already have an emotional resonance with it.”
Saul Bass’ powerful title sequence for “The Man With the Golden Arm” changed the way directors and designers would treat the opening titles.
Saul Bass was a graphic designer best known for his work on motion picture title animations. He worked with the greats After attending classes at Manhattan’s Art Students League, he immediately enrolled at Brooklyn College where he studied with Georgy Keeps.
During his 40-year career Bass worked for some of Hollywood’s most prominent filmmakers, including Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese. like Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho), Otto Preminger (The Man with the Golden Arm) and Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange) among others. You have probably seen much of his design and film work and never thought about where it might have come from.
That first experience gave Saul the idea that a film could take mood and setting within the first few moments of hitting the screen. Preminger invited Bass to work the opening sequence for “The Man With The Golden Arm” which became the defining moment in Bass’s career. Later, he worked with Hitchcock on “North by Northwest”, “Psycho” and “Vertigo
He most famously designed the logo for AT&T that has now been used for decades, as well as the Continental Airlines “jetstream” logo in 1968, which became the most recognized logo of the 1970′s.
Sadly, Mr. Bass passed away in 1996 at the age of 75.
Saul’s work and legacy range greatly, the only thing that is certain is his dedication to quality, and creative control that is present in all of his art. He will be remembered for a long time for his logo design, and forever in our culture through the many films that he added his character to
Saul Bass designed emblematic movie posters that transformed the visuals of film advertising. Before Bass’s seminal poster for The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), movie posters were dominated by depictions of key scenes or characters from the film, often both juxtaposed with each other. Bass’s posters, however, typically developed simplified, symbolic designs that visually communicated key essential elements of the film.
For example, his poster for a Man with a Golden Arm, with a jagged arm and off-kilter typography, starkly communicates the protagonist's struggle with heroin addiction. Bass's iconic Vertigo (1958) poster, with its stylized figures sucked down into the nucleus of a spiral vortex, captures the anxiety and disorientation central to the film. His poster for Anatomy of a Murder (1959), featuring the silhouette of a corpse jarringly dissected into seven pieces, makes both a pun on the film’s title and captures the moral ambiguities within which this court room drama is immersed.
He created some of his best known posters for films directed by Otto Preminger, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, and Stanley Kubrick among others. His last commissioned film poster was created for Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993), but it was never distributed. His poster work spanned five decades and inspired numerous other poster and graphic designers. Bass's film posters are characterized by a distinctive typography and minimalistic style.