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Published by Sébastien Hayez

Portfolio #3
(Frank Zachary, 1951, USA)

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Written by Sébastien Hayez, 4 years ago, 2 Comments


Frank Zachary (editor)
Alexey Brodovitch (Art Director)

Zebra Press, Cincinnati
Volume 1, Number 3
Winter 1951
First Edition
Softcover with wrappers

‘Portfolio’ is considered Brodovitch’s greatest achievement– although short-lived, the magazine captured the dynamic work of some of his emerging star students from his famous Design Laboratory, including Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Art Kane.

The list of contents and contributors for Portfolio magazine reads like a guest list at some great event hosted by an enlightened art patron. “Producing a magazine is not unlike giving a party — the editor-in-chief has to be a good master of ceremonies.” according to Frank Zachary.

Like Brodovitch, Zachary likened publication design to cinematography, where the pacing of visual sequences plays an important role. Art directing and editing are one and the same thing — you have to keep your eye on both the visual and verbal narration line. “You have to tell two stories, one in words, one in pictures, completely separate — but like railroad track, leading to the same place.” Zachary recounted to Martin Pedersen in Graphis Publications (Zurich, Graphis Press Corp., 1992).

“Astonish me!” was Brodovitch’s often quoted exhortation to students attending his “Design Laboratory” classes over the years. Though borrowing “étonnez-moi!” from the Russian ballet master Sergei Diaghilev, with this charge, Brodovitch indeed set in motion the application of the modernist ethos to American graphic design and photography.

Brodovitch’s legacy was given a boost by the publication of a major monograph on his work in 2002 by Phaidon. The Phaidon book reproduces every single page of each issue of Portfolio– a very unusual tribute.

This edition includes a bound-in French marbled paper sample and an original pair of 3-D glasses!


  • Ben Shahn
  • Cartier-Bresson in the Orient: 13 photographs
  • French Marble Papers: with sample marbled sheet bound in!
  • Calligraphy: with four sample pages bound in
  • Stereoscopy: 8 3-d photos: original glasses included!
  • Jackson Pollock: photgraphed by Hans Namuth
  • Hobo Signs: photo essay on hobo grafitti
  • Alexander Calder: photographed by Herbert Matter
  • Skira’s Books: includes tipped-in plate from Skira’s press in Geneva
  • Astronomical City: photographed by Isamu Noguchi
  • Robert Osborn

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Texts by Modernism 101.

About Sébastien Hayez

Art director, graphic designer & illustrator from Lyon, France. Admin at Co-admin of the Facebook group Archives Graphiques Curator at Writer at The Shelf, issue 2.

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