Machinalia : Boris Artzybasheff’s Surreal Visions of Living Machines
Boris Artzybasheff (25 May 1899 – 16 July 1965) was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine. In 1919 he arrived in New York City and began work as an engraver. He illustrated 50 books, many of which he wrote, and scores of magazines, including Life, Fortune, and more than 200 covers for Time.
After 1940, he devoted himself to commercial art, including advertisements for Xerox, Shell Oil, Pan Am, Casco Power Tools, Alcoa Steamship lines, Parke-Davis, Avco Manufacturing, Scotch Tape, Wickwire Spencer Steele, Vultee Aircraft, World Airways, and Parker Pens.
In commercial work he explored anthropomorphism, where machines displayed human attributes, the so-called Machinalia.
Included here are some of Artzybasheff’s adverts for the Wickwire Spencer Steel Company of New York City. Published in 1942, the adverts called on readers to “help end the war” by collecting scrap iron.
“I am thrilled by machinery’s force, precision and willingness to work at any task, no matter how arduous or monotonous it may be. I would rather watch a thousand ton dredge dig a canal than see it done by a thousand spent slaves lashed into submission. I like machines,” he wrote.