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Guide to the Bea Feitler papers, 1920-1981

Collection Overview

Repository
Kellen Design Archives
Creator - Designer
Feitler, Bea
Title
Bea Feitler papers, 1920-1981, (Bulk, 1960-1980)
Extent
11.7 linear ft: 8 boxes, 4 oversize boxes
Location note
Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Design Archives Parsons The New School for Design New York, NY http://library.newschool.edu/speccoll/
Summary
Bea Feitler (1938-1982) graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1959 with a degree in Graphic Arts and Advertising. She went on to lead an illustrious career as a designer of books, magazines, posters, record album covers and more. Feitler served as art director for Harper's Bazaar and  Ms. magazines; was consulting art director for Condé Nast, where she created the look for  Self magazine; and designed for  Rolling Stone magazine. Professional work in the Feitler collection includes layouts, dummies and other pre-publication work; and photographs and contact sheets by a number of the distinguished photographers with whom Feitler worked. Personal materials include mail art, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, ephemera, original drawings and collages.

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Biographical Note

Bea (pronounced "Be-ah") Feitler was born in Brazil in 1938 to Rudi and Erna Feitler. She moved to New York in 1956 to study at Parsons School of Design. Three years later, she received a degree in Graphic Arts and Advertising and returned to Rio de Janeiro to work as a professional graphic designer.

In 1961, at the invitation of her former Parsons instructor and Harper's Bazaar art director Marvin Israel, Feitler returned to New York to work at the magazine, eventually replacing Israel as co-art director, with Ruth Ansel. Feitler credited  Harper's Bazaar fashion editor Diana Vreeland for providing an apprenticeship in publishing and fashion, and for showing her how to harness the talents of illustrators and photographers. Over the course of her decade at  Harper's Bazaar, Feitler honed a bold design style and developed the sensibility and working process that served to guide her throughout her entire career. During this time, too, Feitler manifested a gift for gaining the trust and establishing close, long-term working relationships with distinguished photographers.

In 1972, Feitler joined Gloria Steinem in launching Ms. magazine. As art director, Feitler was the force behind the magazine's look, overseeing layout, sequencing, creating graphic identities for monthly columns, and designing many of the dynamic covers.

After Ms., Feitler developed a long relationship with  Rolling Stone magazine, designing Annie Liebovitz's 60-page reminiscences for the 10th anniversary issue, and overseeing the format change from newspaper tabloid to magazine in 1981.

Throughout her years with Rolling Stone, Feitler built a thriving freelance career, designing numerous books, book and record album covers, catalogs, and advertising campaigns. Feitler was unique in the field for insisting upon title page credit--and royalties--for her book design work. She also designed costumes and programs for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and, as a consultant for Condé Nast Publications, developed the look of  Self magazine.

Editors, publishers, illustrators, and especially photographers came to rely upon Feitler's discerning eye, insight and passion. She won numerous awards from the Art Directors Club in New York, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Society of Illustrators, and the Society of Publications Designers.

Bea Feitler died of cancer in 1982, shortly after designing the look for the premiere issue of Condé Nast's resurrected magazine, Vanity Fair.

Bea Feitler Timeline
1938 Born in Brazil.
1956 Moves to New York to attend Parsons School of Design.
1959 Graduates from Parsons with a degree in Graphic Arts and Advertising.
Returns to Brazil and establishes Estudio G design firm, while working at Senhor, a progressive art magazine.
1961 Returns to New York to work at Harper’s Bazaar.
1963-1972 Replaces Marvin Israel as co-art director of Harper's Bazaar with Ruth Ansel.
1972 Joins Gloria Steinem in launching Ms. magazine.
1974-1980 Teaches Visual Design at the School of Visual Arts, New York.
1975-1981 Designs for Rolling Stone magazine
Builds freelance career, designing for books, record album covers, advertising campaigns and catalogs, among other projects.
1978 Becomes consulting art director for Condé Nast Publications. Designs the look of the new Self magazine.
1981 Designs the first issue of the comeback version of Vanity Fair magazine.
1982 Dies on April 8 at age 44.

More...

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Scope and Content of Collection

The Bea Feitler papers document the range of design projects Feitler worked on over the course of her professional career, and provide evidence of her collaborations and friendships with leading figures in the arts, design, fashion, and publishing worlds of the 1960s and 1970s.

Through photographs, contact sheets, sketches, catalogs, annotated paste-ups and other materials, the collection opens a window not only onto Feitler's design process but onto the magazine and publishing trends and practices of the period. Letters, collages, drawings, mail art, and photographs given Feitler by friends offer glimpses into her active and often-overlapping professional and social circles. Of note are a letter each from Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz, work by Diane Arbus and Alexey Brodovitch, scrapbooks, and project-related photographs and contact sheets by Avedon, with whom Feitler worked repeatedly throughout her two-decade career.

While the collection does not include a significant amount of documentation in Feitler's own hand, it is rich in materials that shed light on her working methods: juxtaposing varied text styles, photographs and drawings in innovative ways; creating graphic flow across a publication; and drawing out new and unexpected qualities in others' work through a thoughtful push-pull process of selection, layout, cropping and overlaying of bold photographic effects.

More...

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Organization and Arrangement

Arranged in 2 series

  1. Professional Work
  2. Personal Materials

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Administrative Information

Collection guide written by Laura Ruttum and Wendy Scheir.

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives 2010

66 5th Ave./
lobby level/
New York, NY, 10011
212.229.5942
archivist@newschool.edu

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the Kellen Design Archives. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Custodial History note

Donated by Rudi and Erna Feitler, 1982.

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Related Materials

Feitler's books, donated with her personal papers, were transferred to Gimbel Library, Parsons The New School for Design, and may be identified in that collection by their bookplates.

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • Harper's bazaar.
  • Ms.
  • Rolling stone (San Francisco, Calif.).

Genre(s)

  • Book illustrations.
  • Catalogs.
  • Dummies (printed matter).
  • Magazines (periodicals).
  • Photographs.
  • Sketches.

Occupation(s)

  • Graphic designers.

Personal Name(s)

  • Arbus, Diane, 1923-1971 -- Pictorial works
  • Avedon, Richard -- Pictorial works
  • Brodovitch, Alexey, 1898-1971 -- Pictorial works
  • Johnson, Ray, (Johnson, Raymond), 1927-1995 -- Pictorial works
  • Leibovitz, Annie, 1949- -- Pictorial works

Subject(s)

  • Commercial art -- United States -- 20th century.
  • Graphic design (Typography).

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Collection Inventory

Series I. Professional Work 1920-1981  (Bulk, 1965-1980)

The larger of the two categories in this collection, the materials here encompass the breadth of Feitler's work as an art director and designer, and reflect her engagement with the music, art, fashion, culture and political scenes of the 1960s and 1970s. A number of projects represented throughout the series provide evidence of Feitler's long professional relationship with photographer Richard Avedon.

Book projects, 1920-1977 

This category presents examples of Feitler's work on book covers as well as overall book layout and design, from lavish coffee-table publications by and about noted photographers, to lesser-known works, such as 100 Jogos Dramaticos, by Maria Clara Machado and Marta Rosman (among other Portuguese-language publications). Materials here include pre-production transparencies, photographs and contact sheets, layouts and dummies, laminated book covers, tear sheets, and slides. (Certain works here, such as  Line Conversions, on line-screen print types, may not have been designed by Feitler.)

Title Box Folder
General, 1971-1977, undated 
Booklets  1 1
Title Box Folder
Covers  1 2-3
OSx-1 1-2
Arquivos, by Antonio Carlos Rodriguez, circa 1976 

Accompanying the photographs for Arquivos is a draft introduction to the book, which explains the author's intention to showcase exemplary photojournalism, with images apparently drawn from the archives of a Brazilian newspaper. The photographers are identified on the last page of the dummy. It is possible that this book was never published, and that the material here constitutes the only evidence of its layout, design and content.

Draft introduction  1 4
Photographic book dummy  6 1
Title Box Folder
Photographs, undated  1 5-9
2 1-5
6 1
OSx-1 3-4
Title Box Folder
Cheap Chic, by Caterine Milinaire and Carol Troy: Cover artwork, circa 1975  OSx-1 5
Cole, by Cole Porter, Robert Kimball, Brendan Gill: Artwork, proofs and cover, circa 1971  6 2
Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, by Boris Kochno, circa 1980 
Contact sheets and other pre-publication work  2 6

Heavily marked-up, presumably by Feitler during the selection process.

Title Box Folder
Photographs and cover  OSx-1 6
OSxx-1 1
Diary of a Century, by Jacques Henri Lartigue 

Files here include photographs for photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue's first book. Edited by Richard Avedon and designed by Feitler, the book documents Lartigue's life and the lives of the French elite during the first half of the twentieth century.

Bluelines, printing plate and covers, circa 1970  6 3-4
Title Box Folder
Photographs and slides, circa 1920-1954  2 7
6 5
OSx-1 7
Title Box Folder
Under Observation (photocopy), by Richard Avedon, 1960  OSxx-1 2

Probably never intended for publication, this book--an affectionate parody of Avedon and Truman Capote's 1959 book of portraits, Observations--playfully alters quotations from literary sources, juxtaposing text with images of Avedon and others. An inscription reads: "with apologies to Truman Capote, Alexey Brodovitch, Simon & Schuster, Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer,  Harper's Bazaar, Bob Bishop, Frank Finocchio and Mrs. Bircher(?) but mostly with great affection for you. Merry Christmas, 1960."

White Women, by Helmut Newton  3 1
Magazine projects, 1963-1981 

This category represents Feitler's work in perhaps her most celebrated role: as graphic designer and art director for magazines. While the collection does not furnish a narrative by Feitler describing her working methods or philosophy, the materials here shed light on her design process. Alternate versions of layouts, handwritten notes on page spreads, marked-up contact sheets, and other pre-publication materials demonstrate her engagement with every aspect of magazine design, from selection and placement of text and images, to cropping, to creating photographic effects, to dictating print processes. Materials include layouts, dummies, photographs, contact sheets, slides, laminated tear sheets, and printed sections and issues of publications.

The Chic folder contains two issues of Larry Flynt's publication. It is unclear whether Feitler was involved in the design of the magazine, although a 1976 drawing intialed "LF" in the Personal Materials series suggests that she may have had some direct dealings with Flynt.

Harper's Bazaar files include photographs for a September 1967 issue of the magazine, a laminated cover, slides of Feitler's work and page layouts from a number of issues.

Look materials include the January 9, 1968 cover, featuring a famous Pop Art portrait of John Lennon. Feitler was behind the transformation of Richard Avedon's photograph into this day-glo, psychedelic image. Also included are similarly-treated portraits of the other Beatles.

Ms. materials include tear sheets, covers, examples of the production stages for the cover story, "Do Women Make Men Violent?", and prints of a cover that became an iconic image of the women's movement: Wonder Woman portrayed as a feminist fighting evil. Page layouts are not marked up by Feitler.

Rolling Stone files include a heavily-annotated dummy of a 50-page section of the 10th anniversary issue, with photocopies of Annie Leibovitz's photographs and text; a printed portion of another issue designed by Feitler, featuring photographs by Leibovitz; and alternate logos for the short-lived Rolling Stone spinoff,  Rolling Stone College Papers.

More...

Title Box Folder
Chic: April and October 1977 issues  3 2
Harper's Bazaar, circa 1963-1976 
Photographs, slides and cover  3 3
Tear sheets  OSxx-1 3

These pages are pasted onto the back of Harper's paste-up boards--one is a page from an issue of  Harper's; the others may come from  Harper's, or possibly from another  Ms. or another magazine.

Title Box Folder
Look: Cover, clippings and graphics, 1968  7 1
Ms. 1970-1975 
Title Box Folder
Covers, multiple issues  3 4
OSx-1 8
"Do Women Make Men Violent?": Cover production, November 1974 issue  OSxx-1 4
Layouts, multiple issues  OSxx-2 1-6
Rolling Stone 1976-1981 
"American Hair Do's and Dont's": Illustration for May 14, 1981, issue 343  OSx-2 1
"Capturing the Soul: Seven Master Photographers and the Tools of Their Magic Trade": Section from May 6, 1976, issue 212  7 2
"Exposed! The Secret Life of Steve Martin": Cover (slide), November 10, 1978, issue 279  3 5
"Inside the Gun Lobby": Front page artwork and color proof, May 14, 1981, issue 343  OSx-2 2
Rolling Stone College Papers: Optional mastheads and layout, Dec 13, 1979 issue  7 3
"Snap Judgments: A Rock & Roll Retrospective 1969-1977": Dummy, section of Dec 15, 1977, Tenth Anniversary Issue  9

A letter from Annie Leibovitz that refers to this issue is included in the Correspondence folder of the Personal Materials series.

"Snap Judgments: A Rock & Roll Retrospective 1969-1977": Page spreads of published version (slides)  3 5
Title Box Folder
Self: Layout, 1977  OSx-2 3
Marketing and other freelance projects, circa 1970s 

Feitler designed marketing and print materials for clients in the arts, fashion, recording and other industries. Materials here include prints of record album covers, logo designs, flyers and posters; a promotional portfolio for Maxi perfume, complete with sheet music and a 45 rpm record; and fashion and commercial catalogs. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater materials consist of performance programs and commemorative booklets, photographs and transparencies of images used in posters and programs, including photographs of Judith Jamison by Bill King. Also included are Feitler's original costume sketches made for the company's 1972 season.

Title Box Folder
General, circa 1970s  3 6
7 4
OSx-2 4
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, circa 1970-1978 
Booklets, 1978, undated  3 7
Costume design sketches, 1972  OSx-2 5
Photographs, slides and transparencies, probably 1971-1976  3 8
Title Box Folder
Catalogs, circa 1970s  3 9
4 1-3
7 5
Maxi marketing portfolio, circa 1970s  7 1
Record album covers circa 1970s 
General, circa 1970s  OSx-2 6
Rolling Stones: "Black and Blue," 1976  k_OSxxx-3 1
Photographs and contact sheets for various projects, circa 1930s-1970s 

While photographs appear throughout the collection, this category presents an additional assortment of prints and contact sheets associated with a variety of Feitler's design projects.

Title Box Folder
General, circa 1960s-1970s 

Images of Bill Brandt, The Fugs, Brigid Berlin (née Brigid Polk), Gerard Malanga, and a number of unidentified artists and cultural figures.

4 4
8 1
OSx-2 7
Title Box Folder
Avedon, Richard, photographer: General, circa 1950s-1970s 

Includes images of Avedon, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Twiggy, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Norman Mailer, Vicomtesse Jacqueline de Ribes and Raymoundo de Larrain, and ballet dancer Maya Plisetskaya. Of note is a photograph of a Pierre Balmain design for the October 1962 issue. The photo is heavily marked-up by "Marvin"--most likely Marvin Israel, Feitler's mentor at Harper's Bazaar--with cropping instructions and a personal note to Feitler. Also includes a contact sheet featuring Feitler with Ruth Ansel.

8 2
OSx-2 8
Title Box Folder
Avedon, Richard, photographer: Portraits/studies of Rudolf Nureyev, circa 1962  4 5
8 3
Beaton, Cecil, photographer, circa 1950s  5 1

Images of George Balanchine and John Betjeman.

Brandt, Bill, photographer, circa 1940s-1960s  5 2

Includes images of Brandt, Arthur Waley, Cyril Connolly, Malcolm Muggeridge. Stamps on the back of the photographs suggest that they were used in a project for Harper's Bazaar.

Castellani(?), Claudio, photographer(?), circa 1970s  8 4
Frank, Robert, photographer: Portrait of Alberto Giacometti, 1961  8 5
Stein, Gertrude and Alice B. Toklas, negatives of, circa 1930s  5 3

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Series II. Personal materials 1935-1981  (Bulk, 1964-1979)

This series consists of correspondence; biographical information (some of which may have been added after Feitler's death); certificates and awards; memorabilia; photographs of Feitler, family, friends and colleagues; scrapbooks of ephemera; and sketches, artwork and collages created by friends and professional associates.

Title Box Folder
Awards and certificates, 1964-1979  8 6
Biographical clippings, 1968-1978  5 4
Title Box Folder
Collages and handmade cards, 1960s-1970s 

Includes collages made for Feitler by colleagues and friends. One has pieces of candy and packets of Sweet 'N Low glued to the page. Another, titled, "A Happy Birthday Portfolio by R.A." may have been created by Richard Avedon during the period when he and Feitler worked together at Harper's Bazaar.

8 7
OSxx-2 7
Correspondence, lists, notes, mail art, bulletin board items, 1960-1981  5 5-6

The small amount of correspondence here primarily consists of incoming postcards and notes. There are a few personal letters, including one in Portuguese and several in French. Of note is a 1981 letter from Richard Avedon referring to a Vanity Fair project (probably the first issue of the new version of the magazine that Feitler worked on shortly before her death). A letter from Annie Leibovitz discusses various collaborations with Feitler, referring to the behind-the-scenes politics of designing an album cover for the Rolling Stones (presumably  Black and Blue, a poster for which is found in this collection under Marketing and Freelance Projects), and the 10th anniversary issue of  Rolling Stone (a dummy for which is included in this collection under Magazine Projects). Also of interest are mail art and a 1972 letter from Pop artist Ray Johnson (on letterhead referencing Marcel Duchamp, a lobster, and a vintage newspaper shoe advertisement). Some of the postcards and other material have thumbtack holes, indicating that they may have been posted to Feitler's bulletin board.

Title Box Folder
Drawings: General, circa 1935-1975 

Many of the artists of these works are unidentified. Some drawings here are inscribed as gifts to Feitler, others may be artwork commissioned or used in design projects.

5 7
8 8
OSx-2 9
Drawings: Sketch by Joe Eala, 1969  OSxx-2 8
Photographs, circa 1950s-1970s 

Photographs and a few negatives here probably span several decades, and include images of Feitler socializing with associates, friends and family, and working on her own and with others on design projects.

Diane Arbus, photographer: Portrait of Charles Hinman (signed), 1960s  8 9
Alexey Brodovitch, photographer, before 1971  OSx-2 10
Title Box Folder
Feitler alone and with others (includes slides), circa 1950s-1970s  5 8
OSx-2 11
Title Box Folder
Printing plate, undated  5 9
Scrapbook, circa 1968-1974 

Items here include photographs, clippings, flyers, programs and other ephemera. Originally arranged on pages in scrapbooks (with some pieces inserted between pages), the original order of the scrapbooks has been maintained as much as possible. Photographs show Feitler working, partying, and relaxing. Memorabilia reflects her passion for opera and ballet, and includes a menu from the gala opening of the Metropolitan Opera House in 1966.

Title Box Folder
General  5 10
8 10
Associacao de Ballet do Rio de Janeiro program, autographed by Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, 1967  5 11
Photographs  5 12

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Collection guide Last Updated: 08/30/2012

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