Written by Ajay Chowdhury
An excerpt from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang number 2
Robert Brownjohn: Sex And Typography
Like a lot of the true artists involved with the Bond films, Robert Brownjohn was a colourful, ex-pat American carving his way through Sixties London like a laser beam through gold. This wonderful, richly illustrated and mounted book charts that life from Chicago, New York and London, via the stylish world of the emerging graphic art movement and the heady days of advertising. A larger-than-life but troubled man, Brownjohn found himself in the UK as a leading advertising/graphic artist, trying to escape his demons. Via Harry Saltzman, he got himself on to the Bonds and his work on From Russia With Love and Goldfinger became legendary.
This book covers in detail the making of those two effectively short films including the experimentation of projections on clouds, how 3 dancers were used on the From Russia With Love titles and the problems with the original title concept for Goldfinger “The producers were not keen to pay Sean Connery to run around in front of a gold sheet…”. The book is filled with candid and moody shots from the set of the Goldfinger title shoot taken by Herbert Spencer. Brownjohn became a legendary figure in Swinging London, designing Rolling Stones record covers and groundbreaking advertising imagery. A fascinating journey of a visionary maverick and highly recommended to Bond fans, graphic artists and fans of the Beat Generation.
Robert Brownjohn: Sex and Typography
by Emily King (Laurence King),
Hardcover, 240 pages, £25.00
ISBN 1 85669 464 X – October 2005
Robert Brownjohn Exhibition
This book coincided with a wonderful exhibition of Brownjohn’s work at London’s Design Museum. The exhibit includes big screen presentations of his Bond titles for From Russia With Love and Goldfinger and those for the Pirelli short film, The Hare And The Tortoise (directed by Hugh Hudson) as well as his Midland Bank adverts and excerpts from a short film starring Brownjohn, Scorpio Rising. Each is preceded by a short narrated piece explaining the history of each short film. The exhibit features Brownjohn’s British quad design for the Goldfinger poster and various other artefacts including his original notebook for the From Russia With Love expenses and the Herbert Spencer Goldfinger stills. It makes fascinating viewing to see these timeless and still powerful graphic images, the simplest and most powerful being Bj’s (as he liked to be known) peace poster. Inspiring stuff.
The museum is also running an exhibit about British design and evokes the England of the period Fleming wrote in. In this context, one gets a clear picture of 1950’s Britain and what a splash Bond (book and film) must have made on this then-grey nation. Catch the poster for Summer Shell. Even fanzines have made it to the collection. The museum also overlooks the site of HMS President, where Daniel Craig was announced as the 6th Eon James Bond on 14th October 2005. Coincident with the exhibition is a vote with the BBC to judge the best British design. On this list is the most famous car in the world—the Aston Martin DB5. Get voting!
Highly recommended—catch it if you still can.
The Design Museum
Tel: ++44 (0)870 833 9955
10.00am – 17.45pm (last admission 17.15)
£4 students and concessions
Under 12s free
Museum shop: 10.00am – 17.45pm
Robert Brownjohn Exhibition
15 October 2005 to 26 February 2006
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Text and photographs © Ajay Chowdhury, 2006. All rights reserved.