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Bea Feitler papers

 Collection
Identifier: KA-0014-01

Overview

Bea Feitler (1938-1982) graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1959 with a degree in Graphic Arts and Advertising. She went on to lead an illustrious career as a designer of books, magazines, posters, record album covers and more. Feitler served as art director for Harper's Bazaar and Ms. magazines; was consulting art director for Condé Nast, where she created the look for Self magazine; and designed for Rolling Stone magazine. Professional work in the Feitler collection includes layouts, dummies and other pre-publication work; and photographs and contact sheets by a number of the distinguished photographers with whom Feitler worked. Personal materials include mail art, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, ephemera, original drawings and collages.

Dates

  • 1920 - 1981
  • Majority of material found within 1960 - 1980

Creator

Language of Materials

Mostly in English; some Portuguese.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Please contact archivist@newschool.edu for appointment.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Biographical Note

Born in Brazil in 1938 to Rudi and Erna Feitler, Bea (pronounced "Be-ah") Feitler first moved to New York in 1956 to study at the Parsons School of Design. After graduating in 1959 with a degree in Graphic Arts and Advertising, she returned to Brazil for a two year stint with the progressive art magazine Senhor.

In 1961, at the invitation of her former instructor and Harper's Bazaar Art Director Marvin Israel, Feitler returned to New York to work at the magazine, eventually replacing Israel as Co-Art Director in 1963. It was during her time at the magazine that Ms. Feitler made numerous professional connections, and began to establish the signature style, that would shape the next twenty years of her successful career. She credited working for Editor Diana Vreeland as a useful apprenticehip in magazine publishing, fashion, and fostering artistic inspiration; and her professional relationship with the photographer Richard Avedon began during this time as well.

Enticed by the opportunity to launch a new project of her own, in 1972 Feitler joined Gloria Steinem in creating the new feminist monthly, MS. Magazine. As Art Director from 1972 to 1978, she shaped the image of the publication through overseeing its layout and flow, in addition to creating many of the magazine's covers. Among the most memorable of her covers was the image of Wonder Woman as a crusading feminist.

Following her time at MS., Feitler founded her own design firm and served as a consulting Art Director for Conde Nast Publications, whom she assisted in launching Self Magazine. She was also Design Director at Rolling Stone Magazine from 1975 until 1981, and taught Visual Design at the School of Visual Arts from 1974 until 1980.

Her work as a freelance graphic designer included the design of numerous books, book and record covers, magazines and commercial catalogs, and even costumes and programs for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Feitler was unique to the design field in her insistence upon receiving title page credit--and publication royalties--for her book projects. Among the books she designed were Jacques-Henri Lartigue's Diary of a Century, edited by Richard Avedon; Boris Kochno's Diaghilev, and the Ballets Russes; Helmut Newton's White Women; and Brendan Gill's Cole: A Biography Essay. Her record covers included the 1976 Black and Blue cover for the Rolling Stones. Feitler was also responsible for the graphic design of Avedon's 19xx LOOK magazine psychedelic photographs of The Beatles.

Feitler won numerous design awards from the Art Directors Club in New York, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Society of Illustrators, and the Society of Publications Designers.

In 1982, at the age of 44, Bea Feitler died of cancer.

Bea Feitler Timeline

1938
Born in Brazil.
1956
Moves to New York to attend Parsons School of Design.
1959
Graduates from Parsons with a degree in Graphic Arts and Advertising.
Returns to Brazil and establishes Estudio G design firm, while working at Senhor, a progressive art magazine.
1961
Returns to New York to work at Harper’s Bazaar.
1963-1972
Replaces Marvin Israel as co-art director of Harper's Bazaar with Ruth Ansel.
1972
Joins Gloria Steinem in launching Ms. magazine.
1974-1980
Teaches Visual Design at the School of Visual Arts, New York.
1975-1981
Builds freelance career, designing for books, record album covers, advertising campaigns and catalogs, among other projects.
Designs for Rolling Stone magazine
1978
Becomes consulting art director for Condé Nast Publications. Designs the look of the new Self magazine.
1981
Designs the first issue of the comeback version of Vanity Fair magazine.
1982
Dies on April 8 at age 44.

Extent

7.2 Cubic Feet (8 boxes, 4 oversize boxes, 1 folder)

Scope and Content of Collection

The Bea Feitler papers document the range of design projects Feitler worked on over the course of her professional career, and provide evidence of her collaborations and friendships with leading figures in the arts, design, fashion, and publishing worlds of the 1960s and 1970s.

Through photographs, contact sheets, sketches, catalogs, annotated paste-ups and other materials, the collection opens a window not only onto Feitler's design process but onto the magazine and publishing trends and practices of the period. Letters, collages, drawings, mail art, and photographs given Feitler by friends offer glimpses into her active and often-overlapping professional and social circles. Of note are a letter each from Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz, work by Diane Arbus and Alexey Brodovitch, scrapbooks, and project-related photographs and contact sheets by Avedon, with whom Feitler worked repeatedly throughout her two-decade career.

While the collection does not include a significant amount of documentation in Feitler's own hand, it is rich in materials that shed light on her working methods: juxtaposing varied text styles, photographs and drawings in innovative ways; creating graphic flow across a publication; and drawing out new and unexpected qualities in others' work through a thoughtful push-pull process of selection, layout, cropping and overlaying of bold photographic effects.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged in 2 series: I. Professional Work; II. Personal Materials

Other Finding Aids

For selected item-level description and images from the Bea Feitler papers, see The New School Archives Digital Collections at https://digitalarchives.library.newschool.edu/index.php/Detail/collections/KA001401.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Rudi and Erna Feitler, 1982.

Related Materials

Feitler's books, donated with her personal papers, were transferred to the New School Libraries, and may be identified in that collection by their bookplates.
Title
Guide to the Bea Feitler papers
Status
Completed
Author
Laura Ruttum and Wendy Scheir
Date
2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English