Assorted sources of gratification, amusement, and inspiration.
Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #1085: Drawing Series-Composite, Part I-IV, #1-24, A+B, (detail), 1968/2003. Photo: Bill Jacobson. Image Sources: Dia:Beacon
Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #1085: Drawing Series-Composite, Part I-IV, #1-24, A+B, (detail), 1968/2003. Photo: Bill Jacobson. Image Source: Dia:Beacon
Learn why this combo rocked my world in the previous post, “Good New for Art Lovers.”
Graphic designer Sagmeister wants to promote happiness. He’s compiled some advice on living in an exuberantly designed book called “Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far.” In his TED talks, he presents his ideas in a very elemental, approachable style. At the risk of making a huge generalization, I found his demeanor self-possessed in a European way—dry wit and nonchalance just short of indifference. (It makes American enthusiasm—wide eyes, big smiles—seem like ostentatious over-sharing.) Presenting simple, innocent gestures with such unconcerned confidence can sometimes come off with a whiff of entitlement, but for all his success—which is evidently abundant—he is modest and gracious, always using the pronoun “we” to share the authorship of his work (but never naming names).
Anytime designers can break free from the conventional corporate path is great; Sagmeister’s direction—happiness—is an interesting choice.
Some of Sagmeister’s projects look like art. He makes installations, photographs and other creative gestures, often on his sabbaticals. Some of the appropriations of contemporary art techniques seem a bit apparent. At one point during his slide show, I winced, because a text made of shadows so recalled the work of Fred Eerdeckens. I haven’t got a problem with designers, or other artists, trying creative approaches that have been done before. It’s just that designers’ images aren’t held to the same critical standards that the works of contemporary artists—the creative risks are not the same. With Sagmeister’s office located in Chelsea, it’s safe to assume that he sees lots of art; a nice gesture, if he does borrow from what he sees, would be to collect art, rewarding those whose inspiration has enhanced your life (if not also your firm’s bottom line).
[On a related note, M is currently studying design that moves beyond visual style. I’m eager to see what he discovers. As designers generate content, and become authors and researchers, with what criteria should their work be judged?]
Ed Fella is an interesting counterpart to hip Sagmeister. Fella, known for his handmade design work and typographic doodles, has a cult-like following among art and design students. His work is delightfully old-school. He’s also completely transparent about his appropriation of styles, and of the insignificance of the content of his work beyond the design community.
In his lecture at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, he’s got a kindly conversational style, both grandfatherly and professorial. With his quirky hoarding of images of vernacular signage, his pursuit of offbeat methods, his unapologetic borrowing of historical styles, and his insistence on making room for young designers, Fella is generous and forthright.
[Can I just say how great it is to be able to access museum lectures online? It’s a proper extension of museum’s purposes.]
Chris Duncan, Eye Against I, installation view. Source: Baer Ridgeway Exhibitions, San Francisco, CA.
Chris Duncan, Obstructed Image #14, 2010, Found paper and tape, 14 x 20 inches. Source: Baer Ridgeway Exhibitions, San Francisco, CA.
This show manages to be sparse but massive. In encompassing and altering the gallery’s architecture, it brims with Duncan’s ambition. It places the viewer literally within his vision. The smaller works look brilliantly simple and expertly executed. I think the tape-out pieces are sublime.
Wish I could be in San Francisco to experience it firsthand.