Thursday, June 11, 2015

Alexander Leydenfrost: Illustrating Technical Stuff

American readers born before, say, 1950 might recall leafing through copies of Life Magazine or other publications and coming across illustrations by Alexander Leydenfrost (1888-1961). What most viewers didn't realize was that Leydenfrost was an Hungarian Baron who moved to the United States in 1923 to escape the aftermath of the Great War. By 1930 he was working as an industrial designer for Norman Bel Geddes, and at the end of the decade moved into illustration full-time. Those and other details can be found in this short Wikipedia entry.

After a fling in Planet Stories, a science-fiction magazine, Leydenfrost built his illustration career depicting current and futuristic machines and settings. This was not a large step away from making certain kinds of industrial design presentations. However, he had an artistic sense that set him apart from those simply skilled in product rendering, which is why his scenes were usually dramatic and halfway believable even if they dealt with future possibilities.


Brooklyn Battery Tunnel - 1950

Fleeing after atomic attack - Pageant Magazine - February 1951

Science on the March - Popular Mechanics Magazine - January 1952
This was a spread in the magazine's 50th anniversary issue.  Click on the illustration to enlarge.

Future Dirigible - ca. 1944

B-26 Bomber - 1942 or 1943

Pennsylvania Railroad calendar illustration - 1945


Bill said...

Nice, blog, Donald.

Re: Alexander Leydenfrost, he did a rendering of William Zeckendorf's futuristic proposal for a New York City airport in the late 1940.

I'm seeking a high resolution image to reproduce in a scholarly book about mid-20th century urban development.

I can send you an image.

Any leads?


Bill Howze

Donald Pittenger said...

Bill -- I am in Norway at the moment and out of touch with most things. Not sure if I can help, as I get most of my images via the Internet.