Currently containing about 100 item, Charts, Graphs, & Diagrams is one of the Picture Collection’s newer categories. Like Advertising – Corporate Identity, Industry, & Utility, the content of this category owes a great deal to late 1940’s and early 1950’s Fortune Magazines. In the future, if this category grows like a good category should, I will probably see fit to cull Diagrams into its own category . I have already divided this post, presenting first a few charts and graphs and the diagrams after.
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, a chart or graph utilizes some sort of axis or axes, often horizontal and vertical, and reveals its information by specific plots or points and their relationship to the value established by the axes and to each other. The terms chart and graph are apparently interchangeable, but I tend to think of charts as more in the map family (of which the Picture Collection has an extensive collection) and graphs as more of the where z meets x and y variety. Regardless, charts, graphs, and diagrams all fall under the greater heading of information design. If you are interested in learning more about information design, take a look at Visual Art Library librarian Amos Turner’s LibGuide which will guide you to a bevy of resources on the subject.
Given the proliferation of PowerPoint and all of its default this, auto content that, it’s easy to forget that charts and graphs are often elegant, artistic, compositionally savvy illustrations.
Even this arcane brown-scale graph, with its clean lines and geometric intersections, is very nice to look at.
Here are a couple of graphs with language out of a Philip Levine poem, with its smelter gasses and pyrites of the heart.
A 1951 org chart in the style of Tim Burton:
And now the diagrams.
I thought these last diagrams were interesting, especially the bottom one which depicts a contraption which “metalize(s)…toy airplanes, junk jewelry” and the like to be sold in dime stores. Despite the unromantic process, the output, detailed below, looks magical.
Tricolor is the English language edition of La France Libre, a French anti-Nazi publication that began in 1940. Here is the first page of an article about the magazine’s origins. Below we have the cover for the celebratory July-August 1945 edition.
Surgery assistance by glowing neon letters, RN from 1943.
Free World: A Non-Partisan Magazine Devoted to the United Nations and Democracy featuring both a 1940 dominant and 1945 submissive Hitler, illustrated by Luis Quintanilla.
Here is an interesting cover from a May 1946 Interiors magazine by Bernard Rudofsky, who you can find out more about in our books stacks:
Architecture without architects, an introduction to nonpedigreed architecture.
Lessons from Bernard Rudofsky : life as a voyage
This Met bulletin cover from January 1945 features their smart little logo on the back cover, a deeply saturated blue-green background, and a detail of a painting of Henry Fredrick, Price of Wales, and Sir John Harington, by and unknown painter of the British school. Dated 1603.
1947: the year of the midriff.
Another great Nature cover, February 1949. Illustration by Frederic Sweney.
And lastly, a textured, mysterious American Artist cover from January 1949. The photo is by Telberg-von-Teleheim and is titled “Mask of a Dream.”