A-|A+

MoMA

TAG: TYPOGRAPHY

Posts tagged ‘typography’
93ecfh5qzigialvc-s5kt_ba2bpwhvqqdsrdpwtl8q8-150x150
Lettering Magritte
Title wall of Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938 at The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Martin Seck

Title wall of Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938 at The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Martin Seck

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).

René Magritte. La trahison des images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) (The Treachery of Images [This is Not a Pipe]). 1929. Oil on canvas, 23 3/4 x 31 15/16 x 1 in. (60.33 x 81.12 x 2.54 cm). Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. © Charly Herscovici-–ADAGP—ARS, 2013. Photograph: Digital Image © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA,Licensed by Art Resource, NY

René Magritte. La trahison des images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) (The Treachery of Images [This is Not a Pipe]). 1929. Oil on canvas, 23 3/4 x 31 15/16 x 1 in. (60.33 x 81.12 x 2.54 cm). Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. © Charly Herscovici-–ADAGP—ARS, 2013. Photograph: Digital Image © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA,Licensed by Art Resource, NY

René Magritte. L'apparition (The Apparition). 1928. Oil on canvas, 31 7/8 x 45 11/16" (81 x 116 cm). Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. © Charly Herscovici-–ADAGP—ARS, 2013

René Magritte. L’apparition (The Apparition). 1928. Oil on canvas, 31 7/8 x 45 11/16″ (81 x 116 cm). Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. © Charly Herscovici—ADAGP—ARS, 2013

René Magritte. Le Masque vide The Empty Mask. 1928. Oil on canvas, 28 3/4 x 36 1/4" (73 x 92 cm). Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. © Charly Herscovici-–ADAGP—ARS, 2013

René Magritte. Le Masque vide (The Empty Mask). 1928. Oil on canvas, 28 3/4 x 36 1/4″ (73 x 92 cm). Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. © Charly Herscovici—ADAGP—ARS, 2013

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.

Caption TK

Detail of the letters “p” and “s” from a Magritte painting

To say that my first attempts were not quite there is an understatement.

Caption TK

The author’s lettering experients

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.

Caption TK

Detail of the letters “b” and “r” from a Magritte painting

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.

Close up of the exhibition title wall. Photo: Martin Seck

The exhibition title wall. Photo: Martin Seck

Detail of lettering on the exhibition title wall. Photo: Martin Seck

Detail of lettering on the exhibition title wall. Photo: Martin Seck

Close up views of lettering in the exhibition galleries

Close-up views of lettering in the exhibition galleries. Shown: René Magritte. The Menaced Assassin. Brussels, 1927. Oil on canvas, 59 1/4″ x 6′ 4 7/8″ (150.4 x 195.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art. Kay Sage Tanguy Fund. © 2013 Charly Herscovici, Brussels/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Martin Seck

Typeface-copy-150x150
April 8, 2013  |  Behind the Scenes, Design
One Typeface Fits All at MoMA

Although there are a million typefaces to choose from, MoMA Design Studio chose to only use one typeface for the majority of The Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition identities. Why?

MoMA Gothic typeface. Typeface designed by Matthew Carter

MoMA Gothic typeface. Typeface designed by Matthew Carter

At MoMA, we are tasked to design roughly 40 different title walls each year to accompany a wide variety of exhibitions. To manage workload, we made the decision four years ago to have two-thirds of the workload “templatized” by sticking to one typeface—our house font, MoMA Gothic (which is based on Franklin Gothic)—for all collection rotations. Read more

Different Strokes: Custom Alphabets Help Us Introduce Audiences to Artists

Left: "A" from alphabet created for Tim Burton exhibition graphics; Right: "A" from alphabet created for Marina Abramović exhibition graphics

What’s so special about a “special” exhibition? For us, MoMA’s graphic designers, they’re special enough to require their own unique graphic identity, and oftentimes a unique identity is all in the letters. For two very different shows now on view at MoMA, Tim Burton and Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present, we created two very different title typefaces. Read more

February 12, 2010  |  Behind the Scenes, Design
Rediscovering The New Typography

When I got off the elevator at the Architecture and Design department for a quick meeting with Juliet Kinchin about a new exhibition she was curating called The New Typography, I was surprised to see some original posters from the 1920s lined up along a wall, and many tiny pieces of stationery systems, brochures, flyers, and ads carefully spread out on a table. We don’t usually get to see the real artwork until just before the show, when installation is underway, and until then, we use exhibition catalogs or digital images for reference.

I felt like an anthropologist in the presence of an early human ancestor. As a graphic designer, I could relate to these pieces more than any other art I had worked with at MoMA. These ninety-year-old posters communicated loud and clear, and still looked amazingly cool. But when I took a close look, their difference from contemporary graphics was apparent: these works had a hand-crafted feel—a beautiful contrast to the clean geometry of the layout.

From left: Theo H. Ballmer. Neues Bauen (New building). 1928. Poster for traveling exhibition of the Deutscher Werkbund. Offset lithograph. Gift of The Lauder Foundation, Leonard and Evelyn Lauder Fund. Walter Dexel. Fotografie der Gegenwart (Contemporary photography). 1929. Poster for an exhibition in Magdeburg, Germany. Linocut. Gift of the designer. Walter Dexel. Die Sport Ausstellung Magdeburg (Sport exhibition Magdeburg). 1929. Offset lithograph. Special Purchase Fund

Read more

November 6, 2009  |  Behind the Scenes, Design
Bauhaus: The Graphic Design Department Goes Back to School
01

Rendering of the title wall for Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity

In December 1938, hordes of visitors packed the opening of MoMA’s Bauhaus retrospective in the temporary galleries at 14 West Forty-ninth Street in Rockefeller Center. Guests followed painted footprints and abstract graphics on the floor guiding them through the show’s seven hundred items, while reading titles rendered in handsome pin-mounted condensed letterforms. The Bauhaus’s own graphic design and typography legend, Herbert Bayer came to New York to design the exhibition himself. And today, over seventy years later, it was both the Bauhaus and Bayer’s legacy that kept most of MoMA’s Department of Graphic Design awake at night, as we began to design the title wall for Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity. Read more