The design accomplishments of Saul Bass (1920–1996) encompass many areas of visual communication: graphic design, movie titles and films, corporate design programs. For more than five decades Bass was a design innovator, in the corporate world with logos for AT&T, United Airlines, North American Rockwell and working with directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese and Otto Preminger. The scope of Bass’s long and prolific career has influenced legions of designers and filmmakers.
“Bass fashioned title sequences into an art, creating in some cases, like Vertigo, a mini-film within a film,” said director Martin Scorsese. “His graphic compositions in movement function as a prologue to the movie—setting the tone, providing the mood and foreshadowing the action.”
In addition to his work on titles, Saul directed a feature film and several short films, often in collaboration with his wife, Elaine. Commissioned by Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, Why Man Creates, received an Academy Award. In addition, as visual consultant, he directed the famous shower scene in Psycho.
Born in New York City, Bass studied at the Art Students League with Howard Trafton and at Brooklyn College with Gyorgy Kepes. After working in New York for a number of years, he moved to Los Angeles and founded Saul Bass & Associates in 1946.
His work received many awards such as the New York Art Directors Hall of Fame in 1977 and the AIGA Medal in 1981, but his view of himself remained quite modest. “There is nothing glamorous in what I do,” he said. “I'm a working man. Perhaps I’m luckier than most in that I receive considerable satisfaction from doing useful work which I, and sometimes others, think is good.” ca