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.
Introduction by Lydia Mullin, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, 2019