George Sakier, FIDSA

George Sakier
(1897-1988)

American industrial designer, artist, and engineer who studied engineering at Columbia University and Pratt Institute, and was a man of multidisciplinary talents. At age 19, in 1916, he composed the text for "Machine design and Descriptive Geometry." He started life as an engineer, designed automatic machinery and got into art by painting camouflage during WW I. After the War, he taught machine design and engineering mathematics.

Art and technology were perfectly compatible and the principals of Classicism always found a contemporary application in his work. In the 1920s he worked in art direction for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Modes and Manners. As a contributor to European art periodicals, he stimulated the rescue of a Mayan collection from the cellar of the Trocadèro in Paris, proving to France that America had an ancient art. His paintings were shown in the Julien Levy ultra modern gallery. For over 50 years, through the Depression of the 1930s, he sent classic and modern Art Deco designs to Fostoria Glass in Moundsville, WV. Many well-known designs included the Crown Collection, the Lotus vase, Black Art Deco vases #2404 and #2428 (1930)

In 1934 he was head of the Bureau of Design Development of American Radiator & Standard Sanitary Corporation, designing modern faucets and mass-produced pre-fabricated "unit" bathrooms. He was featured in the landmark 1934 article about the new profession of industrial design in Fortune magazine that year, along with Loewy, Dreyfuss, Teague, and other pioneers of the profession.

The purest expression of design in his painting can be seen in his abstract landscapes up to 1980. Land elements are reduced to simple geometric forms, Mountains and rock become trapezoids, earth and water become rectangles, sun and moon become spherical shapes of color gradients, and his overlapping of shapes create a stained glass effect. The airborne geometric forms exert a gravitational pull and tension that tunes and animates the canvas. Sakier maintained the unique pitch and vocabulary of form in his paintings throughout his life. He also painted what he referred to as "Realistic Landscapes" and according to the artist’s memoirs, they were not meant as attempts to express himself nor interpret the scene, but are simply paintings of what he saw. Each one is a statement of a subtle yet imaginative departure from fact as well as abstract compositions that reflect the serenity of 19th century "American Luminism". His artworks include Red Mesa, #011, and Collage CO08. Yale University has a George Sakier Prize for excellence in photography.