Author: Ellen Lupton

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schraivogel
Topographies
Swiss graphic designer Ralph Schraivogel is known for his astonishing posters for cultural institutions, each one resulting from intensive visual exploration. Schraivogel creates surfaces that boil and undulate with strange energy—in Cinema Afrika (2006), swirling contour lines give rise to colliding texts. from the words “Cinema Afrika” resemble topographic lines on a map.   In...
soland
Posters with a Central Image
In 1966, Italian designer Bruno Munari poked fun at the commonplace design solution of putting a big circle in the middle of a poster. In his essay “Posters with a Central Image,” Munari wrote, ““The eye is attracted by the dark disc and has no way of escaping.” He may have had this famous poster...
catalogtree-1
Parking Pattern Posters
Data visualization is the art and science of creating graphic representations of numerical data. The Flocking Diplomats series consists of multiple visualizations of a rich body of data concerning the parking violations of international diplomats in New York City. This conceptual project employs the poster as a research tool, much as “posters” are used in...
lustig cohen
Elaine Lustig Cohen: An Interview
Designer and artist Elaine Lustig Cohen was married to Alvin Lustig from 1948 to 1955. She managed her husband’s studio, serving as a secretary, production assistant, and draftsperson—the “office slave,” as she recalls. As Lustig lost his eyesight to diabetes, he increasingly relied on his wife to execute his concepts. Following Lustig’s death in 1955,...
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Hand-Lettered Illuminations
A book cover must quickly capture a viewer’s attention and provoke curiosity about the content within, contributing an enduring element to the reader’s experience. The covers designed by Alvin Lustig in the 1940s and 1950s employ abstracted iconography and simple typography and lettering to create emotionally compelling representations of a book’s themes. Lustig, who died...
cheap art
Angry Graphics
In 1992, Karrie Jacobs and Steven Heller published Angry Graphics, a chronicle of oppositional images created during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. (An excerpt from Angry Graphics appears in the publication How Posters Work.) These passionate works were born in the heat of that period’s wars, epidemics, and economic upheavals. Jacobs...
Poster, NR. 4, 1974. Designed by Wolfgang Weingart for Kunstgewerbeschule (Basel, Switzerland). Letterpress. 87.4 × 61.7 cm (34 7/16 × 24 5/16 in.). Gift of Anonymous Donor, 1997-19-140.
Experimenting with Type
While many works of design explore a blunt, diagrammatic simplicity, others challenge the viewer to fill in the blanks. Inspired by cubist collage, E. McKnight Kauffer created images with fluid boundaries. Wolfgang Weingart turned letters into parts of bodies and parts of other letters, playing with text as both language and not-language. In a series...
matter
Texturemontage
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...
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Masked Cowboy
While many film and theater posters entice viewers with direct eye contact and a strong emotional connection, others build tension by denying that basic human satisfaction. The giant brimmed hat featured in Waldemar Swierzy’s 1973 film poster for Midnight Cowboy  hides the character’s eyes. The portrait focuses our attention on the man’s full, ripe lips while...