Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots: California and Graphic Design, 1936-1986

Louise Sandhaus

Published by Metropolis Books, 2014
ISBN 10: 1938922611 / ISBN 13: 9781938922619
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The essential record of America’s most American design movement, in a form that perfectly matches its content. — Michael Beirut

Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots is the first publication to capture the enormous body of distinctive and visually ecstatic graphic design that emanated from California throughout most of the twentieth century. Edited and designed by graphic designer Louise Sandhaus, this raucous gathering of smart, offbeat, groundbreaking graphic design from the “Left Coast” will amaze readers with its breadth and richness. The fruit of more than a decade of research, this substantial 432-page hardcover is arranged in four sections: “Sunbaked Modernism,” “Industry and the Indies,” “60s Alt 60s” and “California Girls.” Included in more than 275 vibrant color reproductions are books and magazines designed by Merle Armitage, Alvin Lustig, Herbert Matter and Sheila Levrant DeBretteville; posters for Disneyland, Cream and Herman Miller; Marget Larsen’s print ads for Joseph Magnin; title cards or title sequences for Lassie, The Smothers Brothers and other hit TV shows; title sequences for films from Taxi Driver to Tron; motion graphics from the earliest animated abstractions to the classic 7-Up “Bubbles” ad and Atari video games; immersive live shows of Bill Ham and Single Wing Turquoise Bird; architectural supergraphics by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon and Alexander Girard; print and environmental designs by Gere Kavanaugh and Deborah Sussman; and much, much more.

Louise Sandhaus is a graphic designer and graphic design educator. She has served as the Director of the Graphic Design Program at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and is an AIGA Los Angeles Fellow and former national board member, as well as former chairperson of AIGA Design Educators Community (DEC).

Review: A wonderfully eclectic, undogmatic, and free-wheeling crash zoom through a fertile era of exuberant and iconoclastic American visual expression. (Adrian Shaughnessy The Design Observer Group)

The essential record of America's most American design movement, in a form that perfectly matches its content. (Michael Bierut Design Observer)

The essential record of America’s most American design movement, in a form that perfectly matches its content. (Michael Bierut The Design Observer Group)

Sandhaus has created a book worthy of its topic, with an engaging and provocative eye. (Abbott Miller Eye 90)

This colourful collection of Californian graphic art is as dramatic, mellow and full of twists as a scenic drive down the Pacific coast. As the title suggests, the state's graphic design is affected by its nervous history with its lively environment, which provides fertile soil for creativity and offbeat ideas. (Henry Tyminski Azure)

Wild’s observation, like many others in this captivating, dayglo-jacketed book, celebrates a visual history of an environment that seems to counter the stringent, sometimes monotone rules of both life and design. (Lyra Kilston Los Angeles Review of Books)

IT’S THE MUST-HAVE BOOK OF THE YEAR: Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots: California & Graphic Design 1936-1986 (Metropolis, $55, chaucersbooks.com) written by Ojai resident/CalArts professor/designer Louise Sanhaus, lsd-studio.net. Ten years in the making, the 415-page tome is an eclectic romp through 50 years of California graphic design, including Saul Bass’s groundbreaking movie titles for Otto Preminger’s Man with the Golden Arm, psychedelic rock concert posters, the Whole Earth Catalog, and John Van Hamersveld’s iconic poster for the ’60s surf documentary The Endless Summer―an enduring image of the California dream. (L. D. Porter Santa Barbara Magazine)

Earthquakes, Mudslides is off the Richter Scale. Way more than a book, it’s building a community. (Ellen Shapiro Print Magazine)

The book features exuberant, experimental specimens from hundreds of designers, splayed out across the pages with bright fluorescent pink and orange gradients, like the late summer sun sinking over the Pacific. And like the independent, free-spirited work that fills the pages, this is Sandhaus' personal take on the topic. (Alissa Walker Gizmodo)

Earthquakes is a deeply informative and visually rewarding review of a place and time largely overlooked by more standardized histories. Its seismic effect will be two-fold: First, it firmly establishes the impact of California’s contribution to the development of an American modernism; and second, it reinforces the postmodern form of the “eccentric history”―a hybrid of personal experience and historical fact, à la Reyner Banham―as perhaps the only way to honor the multiplicities that we inadequately file under the title “modernism.” (Jeremy Mende The Architect's Newspaper)

The book showcases more than 250 examples of groundbreaking graphic design projects from the left coast in the mid-20th century. (Carey Dunne fastcodesign.com)

The vibrantly designed book explores the transformation of European traditions in California; the culture of screen graphics, from film titles to video games; the influential women who shaped 20th-century design in California; and 1960s California graphic design. (Kristin Hohenadel Slate)

As you’d expect this is a bright, colourful and celebratory book but there’s some impressively (and refreshingly) unpretentious design writing here too. (Rob Alderson itsnicethat.com)

A gorgeous new book highlights Californian designs for posters, books, magazines, record covers and more, over a 50-year period. “So what makes California design deserving of special attention?” asks the book’s editor, Louise Sandhaus, a graphic designer. “California has no terra firma – earthquakes, mudslides, fires and the occasional civil uprising cause incessant upheaval and change... Without solid ground, tradition lacks secure footing; old rules go out the door and new motivations rush in, resulting in new and vibrant forms.” (Corrine Jones The Guardian)

And the same can be said of the new book “Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots: California Graphic Design, 1936-1986” (Metropolis Books, $55), written and designed by Louise Sandhaus, 59, a graphic designer. As she writes in her introduction, she chose not to honor text over graphics, and she wasn’t interested in being definitive. Rather, looking through archives and talking to makers, she asked questions like, “Is this historically important work, versus is this fabulous and distinctive and sooooooo California?” The pieces in the book range in mood from the calm abstraction of John Follis’s “Arts & Architecture” magazine covers to the pixelated trips in David Theurer’s “I, Robot” Atari game. (Alexandra Lange The New York Times, Home Section)

Worth buying for the cover alone, Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires and Riots: California & Graphic Design 1936 – 1986 recalls a time when orange “was rarely utilized by serious graphic designers east of the Rockies.” Designer and CalArts professor Louise Sandhaus spent ten years on this subjective, sumptuous opus about California graphic design in the pre- and post-war years of the 20th century. 400 eye-popping pages show work of known and lesser-known California designers (including Merle Armitage, Alvin Lustig, Herbert Matter, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, April Greiman and Deborah Sussman). Michael Worthington, Lorraine Wild and Denise Gonzales Crisp contribute illuminating essays. (Frances Anderton KCRW, Design & Architecture)

From the Publisher. Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots is the first publication to capture the enormous body of distinctive and visually ecstatic graphic design that emanated from this great state throughout most of the twentieth century. Edited and designed by graphic designer Louise Sandhaus, this raucous gathering of smart, offbeat, groundbreaking graphic design from the “Left Coast” will amaze readers with its breadth and richness. The fruit of more than a decade of research, the volume is arranged in four sections: “Sunbaked Modernism,” “Industry and the Indies,” “60s Alt 60s” and “California Girls.” Included are books and magazines designed by Merle Armitage, Alvin Lustig, Herbert Matter and Sheila Levrant DeBretteville; posters for Disneyland, Cream and Herman Miller; Marget Larsen’s print ads for Joseph Magnin; title cards or title sequences for Lassie, The Smothers Brothers and other hit TV shows; title sequences for films from Taxi Driver to Tron; motion graphics from the earliest animated abstractions to the classic 7-Up “Bubbles” ad and Atari video games; immersive live shows of Bill Ham and Single Wing Turquoise Bird; architectural supergraphics by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon and Alexander Girard; print and environmental designs by Gere Kavanaugh and Deborah Sussman; and much, much more. With contributions by Denise Gonzales Crisp, Lorraine Wild, Michael Worthington. (The Editors Designers & Books)

This sweeping attempt at a history of such an unsung hot spot for design exuberance may not be definitive. But it’s fun. (Steven Heller The New York Times Book Review)

Edited and designed by graphic designer Louise Sandhaus, this raucous gathering of smart, offbeat, groundbreaking graphic design from the “Left Coast” will amaze readers with its breadth and richness. (The Editors Grain Edit)

A book that explores The Golden State, not through words, but in graphics."Earthquakes! Mudslides! Fires! and Riots!: California Graphic Design, 1936-1986," by designer Louise Sandhaus. It isn't just a coffee table book -- it's a 'lap' book -- you can't leave it on the coffee table no matter how hard you try. (David Kipen scpr.org)

This book may not be a history lesson, but it's quite the trip, capturing the california state of mind. It has the classics, the fetishized, and the radical, but also the anonymous, the little known, and the graphic designs that were ahead of their time. (Komal Sharma Metropolis Magazine)

Sandhaus believes that designers took visual risks because the ground and culture was always shifting. This is the first collection celebrating distinctive, 20th-century graphic design coming out of California. (Angela Carone San Diego Magazine)

To understand the shape-shifting nature of the California design scene, look no further than earthquakes, mudslides, fires, and riots. These natural and manmade disasters endemic to the Left Coast provide the cataclysmic title of a forthcoming book by Louise Sandhaus. (Stephanie Murg Unbeige)

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Title: Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots: ...
Publisher: Metropolis Books
Publication Date: 2014
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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