Graphic Design on the Wall

On Design Observer (January 10, 2011), Rick Poynor wrote “Out of the Studio: Graphic Design and Visual Studies,” a critique of the progress, or lack thereof, in integrating graphic design into broader visual studies educational programs, departments and exhibitions. He noted that few venues for this integration have been explored, and notably lacking are the museum and gallery. I commented on his post that at least one show devoted to graphic design belies his otherwise correct conclusion. The current exhibit at The Albany Institute of Art and History titled Graphic Design: Get the Message! devoted to graphic design in general and Albany area designers specifically,  includes a remarkable collection of over 500 bus and train car cards (above) from  the Cuyler Reynolds Collection; material from the Fort Orange Paper Company, which was located in Castleton, New York – the company specialized in pasteboard packages and boxes; and the Embossing Company.

The exhibit includes railway and World War I posters, packaging designs by Hajo Christoph, a German immigrant who worked with Lucian Bernhard, and contemporary works as well – notably by Woody Pirtle.

W. Douglas McCombs, the curator, notes “the carefully planned arrangement of visual images and printed text, can convey both meaning and message. As they tempt consumers, communicate political messages, and reflect social concerns, these boldly crafted, iconic images have been among mankind’s most effective forms of communication.”

Graphic Design—Get the Message! looks at graphic design from four themed areas: typography and early printing; commerce and graphic design; political and social messages; and the creative process. Through the use of posters, broadsides, package designs, paintings, decorative arts, historical photographs, and computer interactives, these four themes will address topics such as technology and innovation; manufacturing and commercial growth; changing aesthetics; typography; designers and the growth of the design profession; and social and political expression in graphic work. Graphic designs, objects, and the history of design work from the Albany area will be used to address broader issues of national and international significance. As it examines technological, commercial, aesthetic, and social factors, Graphic Design—Get the Message! will reveal not only how the field has changed over the years, but also how it has changed us.

For those who cannot get to Albany, here is a visual snippet of this excellent installation.

(The AIGA Book Show is back. Read why on the Nightly Heller.)

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