Historic design documents of 20th-century industrial designer Raymond Loewy, who streamlined cars, locomotives and, for that matter, the 20th century, are on their way to the Library of Congress, said John Broderick, assistant librarian for research services, yesterday.
Loewy was responsible for such icons as the Avanti car, the bullet-shaped S-1 Pennsylvania locomotive, the Lucky Strike package and the Exxon logo, as well as the reputation of the designer as an integral part of the design. He died last July at the age of 92 in Monte Carlo.
The gift of his papers, along with a 1981 donation of the Charles and Ray Eames archives, not yet received, will make the library a major research center for 20th-century American design.
A full-color rendering for presidential airplane Air Force One, which Loewy and President John F. Kennedy worked on in the White House Oval Office, is part of the gift of 1,000 or so items. The handsome design always hung in Loewy's office. Other prizes include: a picture of Loewy at age 13, sitting in a small racing car he designed; 1930 Chrysler and Hupmobile photographs with notes by Loewy; 11 photographs and drawings of his Starlight cars for Studebaker; designs for his 1970s Moskovitch car for the Soviet Union; contracts with Hilton Hotels, presentations to NASA on the need for a window in Skylab; annotated speeches; and sketches of the Cornell safety car.
"To me, one of the greatest is Lot 496, a piece of paper on which Loewy wrote 'Exxon,' 19 times. He circled one and wrote 'O.K.' by it. You can see the whole design process in it," said Stephen Ostrow, library chief of the prints and photo division.
Randolph McAusland and James F. Fulton of Design Publications, who publish ID Magazine in New York, heard the papers were to be auctioned only a few weeks before they went on the block at the house of Francis Faure and Bernard Ray June 21 in Rambouillet. Loewy had once owned a 16th-century Henry IV Renaissance manor house in the small French town.
"We learned the Library of Congress had wanted the complete archives. But his wife Viola had to sell them to live on," McAusland said. "So we started out to raise money. We got $30,000, including some $25 donations from young designers to whom he is a hero."
Fulton, who once was manager of Loewy design offices in Paris and New York, joined Edward Evert Endt, former director of Loewy's Paris office, at the auction. "They were considerably surprised at the prices," McAusland said in a telephone interview. "But they managed to buy 33 lots of Loewy material, and at the last, $9,000 for the prize Air Force One rendering. They couldn't stand to leave without it."
The 793 lots brought $500,000. His beautifully polished renderings of locomotives, airplanes and automobiles brought $2,000 to $4,000 each to individual purchasers, McAusland said.
Another 30 or so lots went to Jean Pierre Blusson, a Paris art dealer.
The formal presentation to the library will come June 29.
The archives of another industrial design firm, Charles and Ray Eames, are much larger. They number more than a million pieces, including films such as "The Powers of Ten," and designs for the famous Eames lounge chair and other innovative furniture.
The library has been quietly working with Ray Eames, Charles' partner and wife, since 1981 to assemble their films, drawings, and photographs. Though Charles Eames died in 1978, Broderick said no date has been set for transfer to Washington.
"IBM has given the library $500,000 to arrange and process the material and prepare a catalogue for a major exhibition on Eames. The process has already been longer than we expected," Broderick said.
McAusland said his group hopes to set up a design archive foundation to help the Library of Congress collect other designers' archives.
Ostrow said, "The Loewy material is a selection; the Eames is the entirety. I suspect that in the future, we'll have to stick to selections."
Broderick added, the library "is interested in major figures in design, the giants. We can't collect exhaustively because by their very nature their papers are voluminous. Still, the library wants to document the great people in life and culture in the United States."