Shooting The Canon

Those who study design history have for years learned about the “canon,” the core figures (people and objects) that have significantly contributed to graphic design practice. For almost as long as the canon has existed, it has been challenged as being too Modernist, Eurocentric, print-oriented, classically trained, Bauhaus-born, Pentagram-driven, male-dominated, and a dozen other canards. It’s true that the canon was established by the few who exercised control over the field, and there is much room for expansion. History is ongoing, as it should be, and the canon should be shot at on a regular basis.

In its current issue, titled “Beyond the Canon,” EYE magazine takes the established record to task, not by defaming what exists, but with a selection of new candidates, including off-the-radar entries (see here).

This issue marks the first under its new self-owned, independent management, and the launch of their new blog, which, among other things, features a short post of my own “Beyond the Canon” offering, a Deco Kodak package design.

Incidentally, here’s another candidate for the canon, the original 1968 EYE, published by Hearst.

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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