Last Thursday, The New York Times opened its doors, and its heart, for an exhibition of illustrations by Brian Rea and Christopher Silas Neal. Culled from their fruitful output for Modern Love—a much beloved column in the paper’s Sunday Styles section—the work speaks for itself, of course, but also for the talent and intelligence of the art directors. The illustrations are strong enough to stand on their own, even divorced from their newsprint context; and when they’re collected together in a new setting, a rich tapestry of experiences and stories emerges.
As Modern Love’s creator, Dan Jones, writes in the show’s introduction:
“For readers who come to the column fresh each weekend, I imagine the illustration mostly presents itself as a beautiful riddle to solve, a poignant mystery. Who are these people? What are they doing? What does it mean? Why is the scene so melancholy or menacing or celebratory? As you read and take it all in, the essay begins to unravel the mystery of the drawing just as the drawing serves to heighten your emotional response to the essay, and in the end both are better for it.”
Nicolas Blechman, the art director of the Sunday Book Review, and Kim Bost, an interactive designer at the paper (and a Print RDA judge), curated the show, which took place at Gallery 7 in The Times’ headquarters as part of a semiannual exhibition series. By day, the gallery is a hallway; by night, it’s a very crowded hallway.
If you couldn’t make it to the opening, here’s our long scroll of picks from the happy couple (of illustrators).
Inside the gallery (Photography by Jeffrey Henson Scales)
At the opening…
Illustrations by Christopher Silas Neal
Illustrations by Brian Rea
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