Boisterous and Blazing
The 1967 “Summer of Love” in San Francisco ushered in a wave of music lovers, rock bands, and graphic artists. Psychedelia drifted through the air and inspired the creation of free-form, vibrant compositions in all creative fields. Concert posters became the relics of the San Francisco music scene, created to promote music and dance venues...
Many people try to play sheet music on the piano, but what about trying to play a drawing on the piano? The idea seems bizarre at first, but it’s central to a movement that began in the 1950s, where composers created “graphic scores” instead of typical sheet music. These graphic musical scores attempt to represent...
Album Cover Creatures
The Talking Heads are depicted alongside mountains, animals, and bell towers on the cover of their 1985 release Little Creatures. Lead singer David Byrne is Atlas, holding the globe, while the other band members are behind him. Graphic designer Tibor Kalman used a painting by Georgian folk artist Howard Finster as the basis of the...
Fillmore Festivities
Posters produced in the 1970s for The Fillmore, the legendary San Francisco music venue made famous by industry pioneer Bill Graham, were renowned for their psychedelic styling. Between 1967 and 1971, Tea Lautrec Litho, a specialist printing house operated by Levon Mosgofian, produced over 200 posters advertising Graham’s constantly shifting roster of weekly performances. The...
Visual Space in Music
Though this striking drawing may at first seem to present a colorful abstract fantasy, the design meticulously translates 78 measures of the 1870 music drama Die Walküre into a new complex visual form. Before creating this ornamental design, John De Cesare worked very successfully as an architectural sculptor. He provided sculptural decoration for some of...
Image of Poster, Freddy Johnson and His Harlemites, 1934 by Charles Delaunay
Harlem in the Jazz Age
Ryan Maloney, Directory of Education and Programming at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, connects the themes found in The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s with the musical culture in Harlem at the time.
Image of George Gershwin at piano
Fascinating Rhythms: Music of the Jazz Age
James Stalzman of the Manhattan School of Music discusses the musical pieces he paired with particular objects from The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s.
“It screeched, it bellowed… Raucous? Yes. Crude? Undoubtedly.”
In celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month, Elizabeth Broman discusses selections from the Smithsonian Design Library's collection of jazz sheet music.
Play it, Stravinsky!
Paul Rand was an influential American graphic designer well known for the logos he created for IBM, UPS, ABC and other corporations. His 1947 book Thoughts on Design is considered a seminal text on graphic design. The poster above shows something different from Paul Rand’s oeuvre. It’s not a neat and compact corporate logo; instead...