Cooper Hewitt says...
Born April 10, 1924, Culver City, California. Died April 24, 2002, Ellsworth, Maine.
Best known designs:
Facade, 127 John Street, New York City, including a three-storey-high digital clock, composed of 72 square modules with numerals that light, displaying date, hour, minute and second, as well as a neon-illuminated tunnel leading to the entrance.
Centerpiece, Cummins Engine Museum, Columbus, Indiana, consisting of a hanging "exploded" diesel engine, revealing in detail all its inner parts.
Egyptian Wing, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, permanent exhibition design, including a photographic timeline and captions printed on glass.
Paperback covers for nearly 350 books published by McGraw-Hill.
1930s Family relocated to New York City. Later attended the New York City School of Industrial Arts.
1940s After graduation, served in the infantry in World War II. Relocated to Los Angeles; began design career as an apprentice in a small art/service/advertising agency. Won award for an ad in a Los Angeles Art Directors Club competition. "Profoundly influenced" by two lectures by Will Burtin and Gyorgy Kepes.
c.Late 1940s Founded the Los Angeles Society for Contemporary Designers with Saul Bass, Alvin Lustig, Lou Danziger and three other designers to further their careers.
1950-- Relocated to New York. Promotion art director, Seventeen magazine. Associated with Art Kane, art director at Seventeen, and Alan Hurlburt (Look magazine, art director), Paul Rand (Weintraub agency, art director) and Art Kane (Esquire, art director), all located in the Look Building on Madison Avenue. Began photographic work with them.
After eighteen months at Seventeen and a brief stint at an advertising agency, decided to work independently. Began long term client relationship with Kurt Versen Lighting Company, designing trademark, packaging, etc. Did monthy illustrations (composite photographs of collages of photographs, drawings and found materials) for Esquire. Experimented with letter and word spacing.
1952 Began teaching at Cooper Union,, which would continue for 25 years.
1958-- Opened office, Rudolph de Harak Incorporated. Designed 50 covers for Westminster Records and book jackets for Meridan Press, New Directions, Holt Rhineheart and Winston, and Doubleday.
1960s--Began to concentrate on Franklin Gothic, News Gothic, Akzidenz Grotesk and especially Helvetica typefaces.
1967 Designed Montreal Expo '67 "Man, his Planet, and Space" pavilion, his first exhibition design.
1970 With Ivan Chermayeff and Thomas Geismar, designed the Osaka Expo '70 U. S. pavilion.
1970s Served on the American Institute of Graphic Arts Signs and Symbols Committee with Geismar, Seymour Chwast, John Lees and Massimo Vignelli, to produce, in conjunction with the U. S. Department of Transportation, a set of international passenger/pedestrian symbols, published in 1974 (34 symbols) and 1979 (16 symbols). (N.B. The full set is available on the AIGA website.)
Visiting professor, Yale University, Alfred University, Parsons School of Design and Pratt Institute.
1980s Relocated to Maine. Painted and exhibited.
1993 Awarded AIGA Gold Medal.
Sources: Steven Heller, "A Humanist's Modernist", AIGA, 1993. www.aiga.org, reissued
Steven Heller, "Rudolph de Harak, 78, Artist and Environmental Designer"
Obituary, The New York Times, April 30, 2002.
"Symbol signs", AIGA, nd., www.aiga.org