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Avant Garde

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avant-garde-historyAvant Garde is a Typeface I knew this – but what I didn’t know was that it was also a magazine – where the typeface originated from. So here is a little run down on the magazine.

Avant Garde consisted of  of 16 Issues but I have only ever seen 15. It was a collaboration between Ralph Ginzburg and Herbert Lubalin (one of three others included Fact Magazine and Eros Magazine) starting January 1968 till July 1971. Ralph Ginzburg was an author, editor, journalist, Erotica enthusiast who was notorious for his use of erotic images,crude language which he full exploited within the pages of Avant Garde – a magazine that’s content often caused offense to middle white America  and it’s Government. Ginzburgs partner in crime at Avant Garde was Herbert Lubalin (Herb) – a Graphic Designer who was responsible for the font Avant Garde which he (and some say his wife and several assistants) created especially for this magazine.

Avant Garde’s covers and content went beyond what was acceptable  during the 60’s and 70’s and moved into the ‘outrageous’, ‘offensive’ and ‘sinful’.  From the  naked pregnant woman appearing on the cover to a re-work of ‘Spirit of ’76’ – a painting depicting America’s independence from Britain – which included a black and a woman – (and we all know black people and women were not popular back in the 60’s and 70’s America) instead of the victorious white men. It is a pretty amazing piece of history when it comes to the design world – John Lennon, Muhammed Ali, Picasso to name a few feature their own personnel work within the pages of Avant Garde. 

Here is a list of the magazines I could find (15 issues)


  • #1 January 1968:  Article by Warren Boroson: “What Makes Nixon Run?” Also: Drawings by Muhammad Ali 
  • #2 March 1968:   Marilyn Monroe Cover. Bert Stern Serigraphic Portfolio of Marilyn Monroe. “Picasso: The Artist As An Eternally Young Man” by Brian Fitzherbert 
  • #3 May 1968:   Revaluation of the Dollar: 19 Artists Design a New One Dollar Bill, Prison Poems of Ho Chi Minh, Profile of Paul Krasner. 
  • #4 September 1968:  Poetry by Computer,” “The Strange World of George Tooker,” “Please Don’t Kill Anything” by Arthur Miller, “I Remember Superman,” by Francesca Milano. 
  • #5 November 1968:   Tom Wesselman “Seascape #17” Cover. Article – Pleasure Painter. 
  • #6 January 1969: “In Full Bloom” Cover by Dewayne Dalrymple. Articles by Dick Gregory, Roald Dahl, and Phil Ochs. 
  • #7 March 1969: “The Spirit of 1976” cover, “Paul Wunderlich’s Painted Women,” Pussy Galore! cat drawings of Guy Bourdin. 
  • #8 September 1969: Special Issue devoted entirely to Picasso’s Erotic Pictures 
  • #9 November 1969: Fuchs’ “Femme Fatales,” “America in Distress,” by Nobel Laureate George Wald, “John & Yoko in Concert,” by Irma Kurtz, “Beasts in Love,” three poems by D. H. Lawrence, “Ultra-Violet In Infra Red,” photographs by Eliot Elisofon. 
  • # 10 January 1970: Heliotrope cover. “The Most Hated Man in America,” compiled by Leslie Pockell, Hundertwasser: “Postcards from Pandemonium,” “The Bigger They Are, The Harder I Fall,” by Max Hess. 
  • #11 March 1970: “Wedded Bliss,” a portfolio of erotic lithography by John Lennon. “A Day For A Lay,” by W.H. Auden, “The Silent Majority,” photographs by Julio Mitchel.
  • #12 May 1970: Dial-A-Hawk: A Ringing New Form of Anti-War Protest, “Bells Belles,” Photographs by Hugh Bell, “The Gang-Bang On the Underground Press,” “Why ‘Hair’ Has Become a Four-Letter Word,” by Warner Brown.
  • #13 Spring 1971: Portraits of the American People–A Monumental Portfolio of Photographs by Alwyn Scott Turner
  • #14 Summer 1971: Hommage a L’Ecole De Fontainbleau cover by Lambert Wintersburger, “High Time,” photographs by Ellen Mark, “The Machine I Hate the Most,” compiled by Dorothy Bates, “Madness to His Method,” paintings by Dieter Schwertberger.


Instead of typing loads and loads about this magazine (I’ve been trying to write this post for ages but has been distracted by Dancehall Anthems) – I’ve decided to insert some pretty pictures for you guys here and consider this post as an introduction to Avant Garde and if you like what you see get reserching yourselves:






So many more can be found here:


Even though i have never personally read, touched or seen any of issues of Avant Garde (thank God for Ebay) – I love this magazine (thank God for Flickr and Google). There is a collection on ebay as I type this all issues 1 to 15 for $450 plus $50 shipping – I’m going to put in an offer and hopes he accepts it but then we have the stinking royal mail strikes over her so…. its a win and possibly lose and cry situation – oh also there is New York I must think of.

So all in all go do some research on this bad boy – if i win the auction I will post more in depth pictures and give a better lowdown of the magazine. These will look so good on any bookshelf or coffee table.


Written by gripse

October 25, 2009 at 10:41 am

Posted in design, Magazine, Typography

2 Responses

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  1. Call me I’m in California and I have a bunch of Avant Garde magazines if you are interested. $500 is what i’m asking.


    My phone is 818-448-5131



    April 16, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    • Hi

      I would love to but that is a luxury – your best bet is probably selling them individually on ebay.



      April 29, 2010 at 8:06 pm

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