How well do you know your MoMA? If you think you can identify the artist and title of each of these works—all currently on view in the Painting and Sculpture Galleries—please submit your answers by leaving a comment on this post. We’ll provide the answers next month (on Friday, December 13). Read more
MoMA’s celebration of the landmark year 1913 continues with the 20th installment in our series of videos highlighting important works from 1913 in the Museum’s collection. Read more
Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities, the third iteration in MoMA’s Issues in Contemporary Architecture series, has just launched with a lively public conversation in MoMA PS1’s VW Dome. Read more
Many people are not aware that tucked away within the MoMA organization is a film distributor. The Film Library was actually the original department, founded in 1935 to celebrate film as the art form of the 20th century. Read more
For most graphic designers, typography is one of the most important, challenging, and seductive parts of graphic design. So when Anne Umland, The Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Curator of Painting and Sculpture, and curatorial assistant Danielle Johnson, who organized the exhibition Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary,1926–1938, suggested incorporating Magritte’s beautiful lettering style—or a version inspired by it—for the title wall design, I was, of course, very excited. I began my work on the project by researching and gathering samples of where Magritte’s lettering appeared, such as in his paintings La Trahison des images (The Treachery of Images), L’Apparition (The Apparition), and Le Masque vide (The Empty Mask).
There were many variations from one artwork to another: some had greater contrast of thick and thin, others were more condensed, and there were perceptible shifts in stroke weight—largely due to the proportion of sizes between the brush and the letters he was drawing. Yet, it surprised me to see how incredibly consistent his letterforms were. The letter “p,” for example, the most notably unique character in his alphabet, always had an open counter, and looked like an “n” with a prolonged stem. The end of the letter “s” consistently looped inwards into a soft twirl that finished with a small, delicate node.
To say that my first attempts were not quite there is an understatement.
It took dozens of variations, testing, tweaks, and just plain old graphic designer obsession to get it to a point that felt right and captured the elegant, rhythmic, and gestural quality of Magritte’s original lettering. When I got stuck on how to resolve a particular transition between letters—for example, between the “B” and “r” in Brussels—I would go back to my research and sure enough, Magritte was there to give me a helping hand.
My finished lettering is used in five places throughout the exhibition. Taken out of it’s familiar context in Magritte’s paintings, it now functions as signage that both guides visitors through the galleries and draws them in.
Have a safe and not-too-terrifying Halloween…and watch out for those shadow monsters!
(Want a bigger helping of Halloween horror? Check out the Posts of Halloween Past.)
As indicated in the previous post in this series, MoMA paintings conservators Cindy Albertson, Anny Aviram, and Michael Duffy have been studying five Magritte paintings for the past two years in preparation for Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary 1926–1938. Read more
MoMA’s celebration of the landmark year 1913 continues with the 19th installment in our series of videos highlighting important works from 1913 in the Museum’s collection. Read more
In an era when no cell phones or other digital devices existed, silence was a more common facet of everyday life. Perhaps attention spans were longer, distractions fewer, and maybe the pace of world was slower. It’s nice to be romantic about a period before communication was measured in 140 characters, when the simple act of writing a letter was a considered an opportunity to put one’s thoughts into words, often by hand, in ink on paper. Read more