Barbara Stauffacher Solomon trained first as a dancer in her native San Francisco, and then as a recently widowed mother of one, she traveled to 1950s Switzerland where she studied graphic design under Armin Hoffman. So assiduously did she absorb 'The Master's' hard line Modernist doctrine that even when she returned to America to work as a jobbing designer, she doggedly stuck to the rigours of Swiss design at a time when, as she notes, 'psychedelic squiggles' were the norm...
Despite her varied and inspirational career, she is best known for the epoch defining Supergraphics she did for Sea Ranch in 1960s California. Her masterwork (painted over shortly after she created it) is a radical graphic statement that can stand comparison with the work of many far more celebrated occupants of the graphic design canon. The history of Supergraphics would be very different were it not for Barbara Stauffacher Solomon.
Adrian Shaughnessy, Editor SUPERGRAPHICS, Uniteditions, London, 2010:
Adrian Shaughnessy—I'm fascinated by the references to people like Reyner Banhan, Jean Boudrillard, Carmen Miranda, Wittgenstein, Le Corbusier. I just wonder what—if anything—links these people? Your own pre-occupations? The diversity of your interests?
Barbara Stauffacher Solomon—I enjoy juxtaposing the silly and the serious. In UTOPIA MYOPIA's PLAYS ON A PAGE, people, silly and serious, connect in their myopic quests, silly and serious, for utopia.
Adrian Shaughnessy—California and Hollywood in particular, haunt these PLAYS—what does the Golden State represent in your imagination?
Barbara Stauffacher Solomon—I was born and raised in California, so were my parents. I've walked every street in San Francisco, driven every freeway to, from and in L.A., and swum in the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. I love the place, despite my youth flights away.
Adrian Shaughnessy—Besides architecture and picture making, I get a strong sense of cinema. Are movies and Hollywood mythology and important part of your life?
Barbara Stauffacher Solomon—Like any California kid, I'm totally happy when hypnotized by flashing lights on a blank screen, hooked on Busby Berkeley hallucinations, Hitchcock hyper-ideal humans and John Ford history, and fantasy-as-fact and any fact-as -fantasy. Married to Fran Stauffacher, I met Utopia making magicians, American Dream makers: Frank Capra, George Stevens, Fred Zimmerman, Vincent Minnelli, Gene Kelly, more.
Excerpts from Q&A in UTOPIA MYOPIA, FunFrogPress, San Francisco, 2013