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Saul BassAnatomy of Film Design$
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Jan-Christopher Horak

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813147185

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813147185.001.0001

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Creating a Mood

Creating a Mood

Pars pro toto

(p.129) 3 Creating a Mood
Saul Bass

Jan-Christopher Horak

University Press of Kentucky

Bauhaus and Gestalt aesthetics influenced Saul Bass’s art, and this was most visible in his film posters, which often reduced a film’s narrative content to a single iconic image. These logos achieved instant recognition by simplifying their semantic content to basic geometric forms, eliminating all details to become two-dimensional silhouettes that could be printed in any monochromatic color. Apart from the uniqueness of their design, Bass’s posters for Otto Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm, Saint Joan, Bonjour Tristesse, and Anatomy of a Murder consciously paid homage to modernist, abstract art. Bass’s advertising campaign and credit sequence for The Man with the Golden Arm officially kick-started the designer’s Hollywood career, even though it was neither his first film logo campaign nor his first title work. The same pars pro toto (parts standing in for the whole) aesthetic inherent in creating logocentric advertising campaigns and posters was also at work in conceptualizing title sequences that placed everyday objects at the center of their design. Bass experimented with a variety of conceptual solutions to individual design problems, moving from a kind of documentary realism to symbolic representations to pure abstraction.

Keywords:   Man with the Golden Arm, pars pro toto, film posters, Otto Preminger, documentary realism

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