Playful typography: MAD looks back on the 1960s and 70s

Playful typography: MAD looks back on the 1960s and 70s

The New York Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) is turning an eye on itself this month with ’Eye for Design’, an exhibition exploring the graphic identity of the museum as visualised by graphic artists and designers throughout the 1960s and 70s.

Pulling from their own archive as well as that of the American Craft Council, MAD will present a collection of works including exhibition catalogues and related ephemera.

Emil Antonucci, Linda Hinrichs, and John J Reiss are just a few of the designers behind some of these pieces, which defied contemporary graphic standards and bucked trends towards more corporate design, a hallmark of the museum itself.

’MAD embraced a very open definition of craft in the 1960s and 1970s, as the exhibition history highlighted by these catalogues demonstrates,’ says Elissa Auther, Windgate research and collections curator at the museum. ’Alongside medium-specific exhibitions of ceramics or textiles, the Museum also produced an unusual series of shows featuring sound, immersive environments, audience-driven "scores" for exploring the city, and the art of baking, among many other creative practices and experiences.’

Rejecting sleek forms in favour of hand-rendered illustration, these graphic artists employed playful typography, experimental mark-making and bright colours, fusing influences like pop art and Henri Matisse’s cutouts with technologies such as screenprinting.

That particular craft will be celebrated through a series of live demonstrations running in parallel with the exhibition called ’The Print Shop’, where Brooklyn-based screenprinting studio Kayrock will use MAD’s custom press to create prints inspired by the graphic art of Emil Antonucci.

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