Shakespeare Studies - Vol. 39

Shakespeare Studies - Vol. 39

Shakespeare Studies - Vol. 39

Shakespeare Studies - Vol. 39

Excerpt

We do not often think deeply about the forms and colors in manufactured items, even though readers of this journal will be more sensitive than most to the way books have been shaped and assembled. Noel Martin, unusually, was sensitive to the looks of all manner of artifacts, and it was this sensitivity that he brought to the concept of Shakespeare Studies as a material object.

In the fall of 1963 and through the intervention of a mutual friend, I had approached Noel’s office in the basement of the Art Museum of Cincinnati with some trepidation. I knew that as a designer he was famous. in 1953 he had been included in Four American Designers, a landmark exhibition of graphic design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; he had won the Art Directors Medal in Philadelphia in 1957; and in 1958 he had re-designed The New Republic. and I knew that Noel’s work would probably be very expensive—he had designed the Annual Reports of many multi-million-dollar companies, including Champion Papers and Federated Department Stores. As for me, I would be asking him to design, from the ground up, a publication much longer than an annual report—a material book, the expression of what now existed merely as a pile of typescript called “Shakespeare Studies,” for which I had no publisher. and I would also be hoping he didn’t charge too much since I had only my salary as associate professor with which to pay his fee.

But Noel proved warm and welcoming, with no pomposity or condescension, and, as it turned out, with a marked penchant for doing things free—at least for the ill-paid realm of arts and letters. I learned that he designed all the material put out by the Cincinnati Art Museum in return for his small office-space in the basement there. Indeed, Alan Schoener, a freelance museum curator, has . . .

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