Experimental Jetset. De Theatercompagnie De Vrouw van Vroeger. 2006. Lithograph, 23 3/8 × 16 1/2" (59.4 × 41.9 cm). Gift of the designers. © 2023 Experimental Jetset

“We’ve always seen graphic design as a legitimate platform for creativity, authorship and self-expression.”

Experimental Jetset

In 1997, Danny van den Dungen was in his last year at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, an art school in Amsterdam, when he was asked to redesign Blvd, a Dutch pop culture magazine. He asked his classmate, Marieke Stolk, to collaborate with him; soon, they realized they needed an illustrator, and invited Erwin Brinkers to join. Working together ever since, the group took “Experimental Jetset”—a phrase excerpted from the title of a 1994 Sonic Youth album—as its name.

Experimental Jetset is now a small graphic design collective that makes printed matter and site-specific installations. With their roots in zines, punk-rock posters, and band T-shirts, the artists now find inspiration in everything from de Stijl—the Dutch modernist movement founded in 1917—to “Total Football,” a theory of egalitarian teamwork in soccer. Neither a crew of individual designers nor a large agency, Experimental Jetset contend that their group of three is “small enough for everybody to feel involved, but it’s large enough to have the benefit of the collective; that magical feeling when the whole turns out to be more than the sum of [its] parts.”

They describe their methodology as “turning language into objects,” and view graphic design as a platform for “creativity, authorship, and self-expression,” designing typography, posters, T-shirts, pamphlets, and installations for institutions and events. For their 2019 commission for The Museum of Modern Art, they drew on two historic sites: Café Aubette, a restaurant, cinema, and dance hall in Strasbourg, France, that expresses the tenets of the de Stijl movement; and Philip Johnson’s 1964 MoMA building. To create the commission’s large aluminum panels and other elements, Experimental Jetset drew on the colors and shapes of these architectural environments.

Note: Opening quote is from Fuller, Jarrett. “An Interview with Experimental Jetset.” Scratching the Surface (blog), March 25, 2017. https://medium.com/scratchingthesurfacefm/an-interview-with-experimental-jetset-91b49c245a6.

Lydia Mullin, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, 2019


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