PORTFOLIO magazine | 1950s
Portfolio magazine, created in 1950, was a graphic designer's utopian dream. The goal: complete creative freedom and no advertising. Each feature was meticulously conceived through copy, art and layout, and paper stock where possible. Unfortunately, refusal to allow advertising to infect the flow of the magazine, and the choice to create a no-expense-spared publication, led to its quick demise – only 3 issues were published from 1950-1951!
Truly a high point of American graphic design, Portfolio magazine captured the dynamic work of some of the best emerging artists of the time and used beautiful printing techniques. Portfolio became the paradigm of what a modern graphic design and applied arts magazine should be. The short-lived publication (2 issues published in 1950 and only 1 in 1951) still inspires.
The magazine was a collaboration between Frank Zachary (founder) and Alexey Brodovitch (legendary art director of Harpers Bazaar, who almost missed out on the job of Portfolio Art Director to Paul Rand). Brodovitch is often credited with having a major influence on the acceptance of European modernism in America. His use of asymmetrical layouts, white space and dynamic imagery changed the nature of magazine design. Brodovitch used only type on the cover, which was unusual for American magazines of that time. With Portfolio, he wanted to create a magazine unlike any other. The first issue of the magazine is filled with a range of design influences that formed Brodovitch's creative vision.
Portfolio was, and still is, considered Brodovich’s greatest achievement. The publication may have died, but its superb style and extensive influence lives on.