We can feel an image in our bones and muscles. We can also touch it with our skin (almost). The knitted wool glove in Herbert Matter’s Engelberg, Trübsee, Switzerland (1935) is so real we can almost sense it against our skin. Designers speak of “texture” as a basic design element, and yet this quality often exists as a flat representation or abstraction rather than a physical surface characteristic.

Ellen Lupton is Senior Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and Director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art.

The exhibition How Posters Work is currently on view at Cooper Hewitt through November 15, 2015.  You can learn more at the exhibition homepage  and find the book How Posters Work at SHOP Cooper Hewitt. #HowPostersWork

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