Inspirations

Paul Rand believed that good design was a way of life. His inspirations led him to develop some of the most ground-breaking creations and writings in graphic design history. Below is a selection of artists, designers, architects, writers and others who have inspired Paul Rand in life and work.

This is simply a small collection, but hopefully you’ll find the same inspirations and continue to learn more about these great pioneers.

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Paul Klee

Paul Klee (18 December 1879 – 29 June 1940) was a Swiss painter of German nationality. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. He was, as well, a student of orientalism. Klee was a natural draftsman who experimented with and eventually mastered color theory, and wrote extensively about it. His works reflect his dry humor and his sometimes child-like perspective, his personal moods and beliefs, and his musicality. He and his friend, the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, both taught at the German Bauhaus school of art and architecture.

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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, born Maria Ludwig Michael Mies (March 27, 1886 – August 17, 1969) was a German-American architect. He was commonly referred to and addressed by his surname, Mies, by his colleagues, students, writers, and others.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, along with Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of Modern architecture. Mies, like many of his post World War I contemporaries, sought to establish a new architectural style that could represent modern times just as Classical and Gothic did for their own eras. He created an influential 20th century architectural style, stated with extreme clarity and simplicity. His mature buildings made use of modern materials such as industrial steel and plate glass to define interior spaces. He strived towards an architecture with a minimal framework of structural order balanced against the implied freedom of free-flowing open space. He called his buildings “skin and bones” architecture. He sought a rational approach that would guide the creative process of architectural design, and is known for his use of the aphorisms “less is more” and “God is in the details”.

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Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Wasilyevich Kandinsky was born on December, 16th in Moscow 1866. He was a Russian painter, printmaker and art theorist. One of the most famous 20th-century artists, he is credited with painting the first modern abstract works.

In 1871 the family moved to Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow and chose to study law and economics. Quite successful in his profession (he was offered a professorship (chair of Roman Law) at the University of Dorpat). He started painting studies (life-drawing, sketching and anatomy) at the age of 30.

In 1896 he settled in Munich and studied first in the private school of Anton Abe and then at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich. He went back to Moscow in 1914 after World War I started. He was unsympathetic to the official theories on art in Moscow and returned to Germany in 1921. There he taught at the Bauhaus school of art and architecture from 1922 until the Nazis closed it in 1933. He then moved to France where he lived the rest of his life, and became a French citizen in 1939. He died at Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1944.

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Le Corbusier

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, who chose to be known as Le Corbusier (October 6, 1887 – August 27, 1965), was a Swiss-French architect, designer, urbanist, writer and also painter, who is famous for being one of the pioneers of what now is called Modern architecture or the International Style. He was born in Switzerland, but became a French citizen in his 30s.

He was a pioneer in studies of modern high design and was dedicated to providing better living conditions for the residents of crowded cities. His career spanned five decades, with his buildings constructed throughout central Europe, India, Russia, and one each in North and South America. He was also an urban planner, painter, sculptor, writer, and modern furniture designer.

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Walter Gropius

Walter Gropius was a German architect and art educator who founded the Bauhaus school of design, which became a dominant force in architecture and the applied arts in the 20th century. Gropius taught that all design should be functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. The Bauhaus school pioneered a functional, severely simple architectural style, featuring the elimination of surface decoration and extensive use of glass.

The Bauhaus school attracted many artists, including painters Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, graphic artist Kathe Kollwitz, and expressionist art groups such as Die Brucke and Der Blaue Reiter.

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Roger Fry

Roger Eliot Fry (14 December 1866 – 9 September 1934) was an English artist and an art critic, and a member of the Bloomsbury group. Despite establishing his reputation as a scholar of the Old Masters, as he matured as a critic he became an advocate of more recent developments in French painting, to which he gave the name Post-Impressionism. He was the first figure to raise public awareness of modern art in Britain, and emphasized the formal properties of paintings over the “associated ideas” conjured in the viewer by their depicted content. He was described by the art historian Kenneth Clark as “incomparably the greatest influence on taste since Ruskin… In so far as taste can be changed by one man, it was changed by Roger Fry”.

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Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North Whitehead, OM (February 15, 1861 – December 30, 1947) was an English mathematician who became a philosopher. He wrote on algebra, logic, foundations of mathematics, philosophy of science, physics, metaphysics, and education. He co-authored the epochal Principia Mathematica with Bertrand Russell.

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John Dewey

John Dewey (October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been very influential. Dewey, along with Charles Sanders Peirce and William James, is recognized as one of the founders of the philosophy of pragmatism and of functional psychology. He was a major representative of the progressive and progressive populist philosophies of schooling during the first half of the 20th century in the USA.

Although Dewey is known best for his publications concerning education, he also wrote about many other topics, including experience and nature, art and experience, logic and inquiry, democracy, and ethics.

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