Celebrating 50 Years Since the Launch of Avant Garde

It was 50 years ago that Herb Lubalin introduced Avant Garde to the world, at age 50. So it makes sense that the Herb Lubalin Study Center would honor the magazine on Day 50 of their 100 Years of Herb Lubalin series.

“Despite Lubalin’s initial resistance to the idea of the future, he created a very futuristic and forward-looking logo, which led to the typeface which came to define and dominate design for years,” the site notes.

The magazine published a total of 14 issues, from 1968 through 1971, and provided a platform for the continued partnership of designer Luabalin and editorial director Ralph Ginzburg. Provocative, edgy and with full disregarded for societal taboos, the magazine “rattled some more nerves and made a few more enemies. It was perfect for the tumultuous 1968, and everything that year ushered in,” the site notes.

For its avant garde approach, it was caught up in the culture wars of the time and folded when Ginzburg lost his battle with U.S. government and was jailed on obscenity charges stemming from their previous partnership, Eros. 

“Following Ginzburg’s release from prison in 1973 he tried to revive the magazine in a newsprint, tabloid format, a venture that Ginzburg said nearly bankrupted him,” the site continues. “It failed after an initial issue, as the momentum of the previous version of the magazine’s iteration was lost this time around.”

Fifty years later, Avant Garde still looks futuristic from a design perspective. Perhaps even more intriguing is the reality that 50 years on, the media world is facing another pitched battle against certain factions over what constitutes “news” and who gets to decide.