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american art deco collection


IdcN Collection Exhibition Series vol.22

“LIFE” | America: Birth of Photojournalism Magazine

IdcN Collection Exhibition Series vol.22
“LIFE” | America: Birth of Photojournalism Magazine (Poster image)

Exhibition venue


IdcN holds approximately 2,000 Art Deco items, ranging from furniture to electric appliances, tableware, magazines and posters, all of which were produced in the United States in the 1930s. This mode of design, having permeated the country at the dawn of the age of mass production, serves as precious material demonstrating the great shift in society and the industrial structure in the 20th Century. Even today, these supremely playful objects assert an uncanny freshness.

This is a serial exhibit in which we show, on a theme-by-theme basis, our nearly 2,000 examples of Art Deco collection. This time, we will exhibit about 100 volumes of “LIFE”, and will introduce the social movements and the lives of people in the 1930s captured by photographers of the time, and the attractiveness of graphics in magazine design.

“LIFE” is a photographic magazine published in the United States in the latter half of the 1930s and has made up a style of “photojournalism magazine” that conveys the contents of the report from a visual approach rather than sentences, mainly on excellent photographs. The cover page is made up of a simple logo and minimal text narrowed down, to tell the maximum of the charm of the photograph, and its design has the strength to jump into our eyes along with the red color of its logo.
Ever since its foundation, quickly expanding its circulation of copies, the LIFE soon became an information magazine representing the United States, and continued to draw attention for a long time, as a news media and a ground for speech to convey American thought.

In this exhibition, we will exhibit about 100 volumes in its initial 3 years, from the first issue of 1936 that took up the dam construction site which is also part of New Deal policy, until before the opening of the World War Ⅱ, and will introduce the movement of the society and the people’s lives in the 1930s captured by photographers of the time, and the charm of graphics in magazine design as well.

*Exhibits will be displayed in four categories of “Politics/Economy”, “Life/ Customs”, “People”, “Military/War” by the theme of cover pages. In addition, at the entrance of venue, as a background for the exhibition, we will introduce photographs (reprints) of the landscape and the customs of the American society in the 1930s (when the LIFE was born), for reference.
*Main photographers: Margaret Bourke-White, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Robert Capa


LIFE first issue (Cover page), Issue: November 23, 1936

LIFE first issue (Cover page)/Issue: November 23, 1936
The cover of the first issue was by a female photographer, Robert Capa’s construction site of Fort Peck Dam. One of the New Deal policies launched as a recovery policy from recession. A huge dam symbolizes massive public works and unemployment countermeasures.

LIFE (August 9, 1937) LIFE (March 14, 1938)

LIFE (Cover page)/Issue: August 9, 1937 (Left)
LIFE that took up a wide range of information related to living in general, the daily lives of unnamed people also appeared. The shipping scenery of the farmer and watermelons which adorned the cover of the August issue was taken at Adel, Georgia. State of Georgia  was known as one of the leading watermelon production areas.

LIFE (Cover page)/Issue: March 14, 1938 (Right)
In the 1930s media such as radio and magazines gathered strong public interest. Sitting on the chair is Jane Froman, a singer and actress who spends time waiting for rehearsals at the NBC studio. The picture was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

LIFE (June 27, 1938) LIFE (May 16, 1938)

LIFE (Cover page)/Issue: June 27, 1938 (Left)
Many portraits including celebrities representing the times appear on the cover of LIFE. Smiling Franklin Roosevelt was elected as the most popular person among the successive presidents in the magazine questionnaire of the 1930s.

LIFE (Cover page)/Issue: May 16, 1938 (Right)
In an unstable political station just before the Second World War, war coverage gradually increases to LIFE. The photo is a boys soldier during the Japan-China War by photography of Robert Capa, one of many contract photographers. This Chinese boy was said to be 15 years old at the time of photographing.

IdcN Collection Exhibition Series vol.22
“LIFE” | America: Birth of Photojournalism Magazine

Period: July 21 – August 20, 2017
Venue: Design Gallery, International Design Center NAGOYA
Organizer: International Design Center NAGOYA Inc.