The art of life
A National Gallery of Australia Travelling Exhibition
left: Douglas Annand The typist: cover design for The Home, vol. 17, no. 7, July 1936 1936 collage of rope, beads, pencils, ribbon, cigarette, erasers, coloured paper, matchsticks, cut photographs on fabric mounted on card right: Douglas Annand Black swan: cover of The Home Annual 1937 Research Library, National Gallery of Australia click to enlarge
Setting new standards in style
Annand's distinctly individual interpretation of international modernism set new standards of sophistication in graphic design in Australia during the 1930s.
His cover designs for The Home - the leading lifestyle magazine of the period - were extraordinarily innovative, often whimsical, and always stylish. One of his quirkiest covers is The typist. Inspired by Cubist collage, he sought to create a unique decorative vitality by combining materials of diverse shapes and textures. The typist's face is formed from everyday office equipment, while the cigarette in her mouth is the ultimate symbol of the modern independent woman of the time. The light-hearted humour of this witty work belies its disciplined construction. Other marvellous Home cover designs included quirky kings, dancing Santas and superbly rendered Australian wildlife. Perhaps the most beautiful of these was a black swan for The Home Annual 1937, which won Annand the Australian Commercial and Industrial Artist's Association bronze medal in 1940.
left: Douglas Annand 'Design for advertisement: Orient 20,000 tonners' 1935 gouache right: Max Dupain' P & O Headquarters, Sydney' 1963 gelatin silver photograph click to enlarge
Creating the corporate image
In the 1930s, when ocean liners were the epitome of modern design, Douglas Annand assisted in creating a sophisticated corporate image for Orient Line (later P & O), crossing conventional boundaries of art and design in advertising, posters, menu cards, brochures, interior design and murals.
In 1935 this stunning advertisement for the Orient Line cruises appeared in The Home magazine. A study in line and form, it is an abstracted aerial view of the top deck of a luxury ocean liner. The strong diagonal line of the deck fragments the circular form of the funnel, while the soft palette of the liner is a subtle contrast to a triangle of cerulean sea. Annand's most significant commission for the company was in 1963, for its new Sydney Headquarters. For the foyer he created the Celestial globe, an acid-etched glass screen and an enormous ceramic mural; and for the facade - a bronze sculpture of the P & O insignia animals.
left: Douglas Annand Australia's 150th Anniversary 1938. "Venetian Nights" Sydney Harbour 1937 colour offset lithograph Gift in memory of Spensley Charles and Gwendoline Mary Weetman 1990 right: Douglas Annand Australia Commonwealth Games, Perth, Nov. 22 - Dec 1, 1962 c.1956 printed 1962 colour offset lithograph Collection of the national Gallery of Australia Gift of Tony and Suzanne Annand 2002 click to enlarge
A dramatically modern view of Australia
From the late 1930s Annand introduced a dramatically modern view of Australia through his posters for the Australian National Travel Association.
His Australia's 150th Anniversary 1938. "Venetian Nights" is a spectacular photomontage in the new geometric style. In 1938 Annand had carefully recorded the experience of his first flight and it was perhaps the inspiration for this sweeping aerial view of the harbour at night. Sydney, illuminated by thousands of newly installed electric lights, becomes the quintessential modern city. By juxtaposing bold typeface, strong angles and simple line work against an uncluttered white background, Annand created a compelling sense of energy and rhythm in this classic poster.
Nearly twenty years later Annand created his elegant black swan poster. It was reproduced often over the next ten years and in 1968 won a bronze medal at the International Poster Competition in Milan.
left: Max Dupain 'Patricia's Milk Bar, Sydney' 1948 gelatin silver photograph right: Douglas Annand Length of fabric with abstract collage motifs and Douglas Annand signature 1954 screenprint on rayon click to enlarge
A functional and sophisticated design ethic
Always keen to experiment in new mediums and styles Annand turned to abstraction in his mural and textile designs of the late forties and early fifties.
By 1948, when this funky three-dimensional collage for Patricia's Milk Bar in Sydney was created, Annand was recognised as one of Australia's leading muralists. Made from found objects painted in bold primary colours, this purely abstract modernist work typified the functional and sophisticated design ethic of the fifties.
In the mid-forties Annand began designing textiles for Marion Hall Best and in 1947 was one of thirty- one artists Claudio Alcorso invited to contribute to his Modernage range. By the early fifties Annand had gained a reputation for winning most major textile design competitions, and in 1954 won first prize in the Leroy Alcorso Textile Design Competition for this ultra-modern collage 'signature print' design.
Douglas Annand 'Domestic architecture', Townsville, N.Q. 1943 pencil and watercolour Collection of Tony and Suzanne Annand click to enlarge
A passion for watercolours
As a camouflage artist stationed in northern Australia during the Second World War, Annand found the opportunity to indulge his passion for chronicling the world around him. He revelled in the immediacy of pen and watercolours and with them captured the lush tropical environment, sprawling buildings, quirky local characters and the world viewed from above as he flew over land and sea. Domestic architecture, Townsville, N.Q. is a superbly executed drawing of an old Queenslander house, its rambling roof angles stretching off into the middle distance. Annand's keen eye captured the domestic detail - a woman struggling down the back stairs with an overladen laundry basket; fecund clusters of fruit ripening on the spindly trunks of paw paw trees; and with a typically curious touch, a car which has inexplicably careered into the back yard shed. After the war, Annand continued to fill sketchbook after sketchbook and on his travels captured in delicate detail the fascinating minutiae of life.