• Steven Heller

Radical Modernism’s Father Figure

Dan Friedman (1945 –1995), the father of “Radical Modernism,” wrote: “We should return to a belief in a radical spirit—the idea that design is something that can help improve society and people’s condition.” It is also the underscore of “Dan Friedman: Radical Modernist,” a new exhibition at the Chicago Design Museum from April 28–Aug. 12. Curated by Friedman himself prior to his death in 1995, the exhibit reflects his kaleidoscopic career, such as his influential New Wave typography, pieces of eccentric furniture, experimental sculptural installations, found art exploring American and street culture that rejects corporate style yet reaffirms the 20th-century tenets of Modernism.

Friedman pioneered the American Radical Modernist movement in the ‘80s and ‘90s, working alongside contemporaries like Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons. His work broke established boundaries between design disciplines. He pioneered the New Wave typography in America and differentiated his design from the formal structures of Modernism. Prior to its current incarnation, Friedman created the iconic Citibank logo, used by the bank from 1976 to 2001. He later joined the Pentagram design firm. His Radical Modernist agenda (which included the design of his own home, pictured below) is 20 years old, but feels as fresh as the day he coined the term.

The 2017 PRINT RDA: Extended Deadline. Enter Now!

Enter the most respected competition in graphic design—now open to both pros and students—for a chance to have your work published, win a pass to HOW Design Live, and more. 2017 Judges: Aaron Draplin / Jessica Hische / Pum Lefebure / Ellen LuptonEddie OparaPaula Scher. Student work judges: PRINT editorial & creative director Debbie Millman and PRINT editor-in-chief Zachary Petit.

Draplin image: Leah Nash. Hische: Helena Price. Lupton: Michelle Qureshi. Scher: Ian Roberts.

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