Oral history interview with Rudolph de Harak, 2000 Apr. 27
Harak, Rudolph de
Larsen, Susan C., 1946-
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
McGraw-Hill Book Company
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.)
World Trade Center
Place of publication, production, or execution:
Sound recording: 3 sound cassettes (270 min.) : analog + printed material and drawings.
Transcript: 34 p.
Access Note / Rights:
Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
An interview of Rudolph de Harak conducted 2000 Apr. 27, by Susan Larsen, for Archives of American Art, in Trenton, Me. Also received from De Harak at the time of the interview are a photocopy of an article reprinted in Design Culture that de Harak wrote for the American Institute of Graphic Arts; photocopy of an interview transcript with Gyorgy Kepes conducted by de Harak, de Harak's vitae, 2 exhibition catalogs, an article in recognition of de Harak by Daniel Forte, and a pencil drawing and a design with color chart.
De Harak discusses his childhood in California and moving to both Chicago and New York in support of his sisters' dancing careers, as well as his education and career. He attended the New York School of Industrial Arts, graduating in 1940, at the age of sixteen. After graduation he worked in an upholstery factory etching zinc plates for printed and painted silk fabric for use in draperies. At age eighteen he was drafted into the Army and served throughout WWII. After the war he returned to California, to be with his sisters and mother. Eventually he found work in a Los Angeles design studio, where he became reacquainted with Hal Tritel, whom he had known in New York. Together, they attended an inspirational lecture by Will Burtin, the art director of Fortune magazine.
In 1947, De Harak and Tritel opened their own design firm. In 1950, De Harak moved back the New York in search of more opportunities as a designer. He worked at a variety of tasks including a stint at Seventeen magazine, starting his own design firm, and teaching at Cooper Union School of Visual Arts. His clients included McGraw Hill Publishers, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He also worked on the World Trade Center. Through his work with the Atomic Energy Commission, De Harak became friends with Gyorgy Kepes. He also became friends with Will Burtin and Bill Golden, the designer of the "CBS eye" logo. De Harak also discusses the effect computers have had on design, the influence of Wolfgang Weingart, and his decision to focus on painting.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Rudolph de Harak, 2000 Apr. 27. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the transcription of this interview provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Women's Committee.
Rudolph de Harak (1924-2002) was a graphic designer and painter from Trenton, Me.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001