As part of the Institute of Contemporary Arts’ series of lunchtime talks Culture Now, acclaimed book designer David Pearson will be discussing text design at Penguin Books. The talk will cover the company’s inception in 1935, the arrival and impact of Jan Tschichold in 1947, the handing over of the reigns to Hans Schmoller in 1949 and finally, the significant contribution of Gerald Cinamon – the subject of a presentation running concurrently at the ICA – to Penguin from the early 60s through to 1986.
The talk is on Friday the 13th of September 2013 at 1:00 pm.
Dangerous Visions is a season of dramas currently running on BBC Radio 4 on the theme of dystopia, inspired by the work of J G Ballard. It includes adaptations of his novels The Drowned World and Concrete Island alongside visions of an uneasy future imagined by contemporary writers.
What happens if sleep is outlawed? If cloning becomes a matter of course, and your loved ones are capable of being cloned? If North London declares UDI on South London, which has become a wasteland? If human sacrifice becomes a part of society?
Scottish Brutalism is a website set up by Ross Brown to accompany his research project into Brutalist architecture at the University of Strathclyde Department of Architecture. The project
aims to map, document and critically assess Brutalist architecture across the Strathclyde region of Scotland, UK. Illustrated articles and building studies, periodically published on scotbrut.co.uk, demonstrate the quality and variety of Brutalist architecture built across Strathclyde between the late 1950s & early 1980s.
(Pictured: Anniesland Cross Housing, Glasgow, Jack Holmes & Partners, 1969)
A new Brighton-based menswear brand, Fitzgerald’s Clothiers ‘specialise in producing classic mid 20th century menswear, specifically, but not limited to, Ivy league style garments’. Their initial offering is a proper Oxford cloth button-down shirt that recalls the classic Sero ‘The Purist’ shirt of yore; classic, rather than slim, fit with, crucially, an unlined collar for that perfect roll. Definitely one to keep an eye on.
Opening tomorrow at Tate Modern is the first major museum exhibition of the diverse work of pioneering Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair. Based in Beirut, she was taught by traditional landscape painters, but carved out a unique modernist vision of her own, influenced by Islam and western abstract art.
The Saloua Raouda Choucair retrospective runs from 17 April – 20 October 2013.
Fascinating review by Kevin Jackson of Extreme Metaphors: Interviews with J G Ballard, 1967-2008, edited by Simon Sellars and Dan O’Hara.
This collection of forty-odd bits of journalism can be enjoyed as a kind of protracted non-fiction novel … The ‘Ballard’ of Extreme Metaphors, like the ‘Ballard’ of Crash or the ‘Jim’ of Empire of the Sun, is a well-wrought character. And a fascinating character at that.
Design critic Alexandra Lange visited the retrospective of modernist furniture designer George Nelson and found herself even more interested in the graphic design output of his associates than in the furniture itself.
The Modernist is ‘a quarterly publication about 20th century modernist architecture and design, with a view from the North of England’. You can buy recent issues or subscribe via the Modernist website, but the first four issues are now available to view online for free at Magpile.
Kicking off tonight at Turner Sims in Southampton and continuing at London’s Southbank Centre is London Sinfonietta’s Landmarks, a series of concerts which explores some of the most important moments of twentieth century music. The concerts are presented in collaboration with Netia Jones/Lightmap, whose video projections between and alongside the music will map and uncover the context in which each work was conceived.
Olivier Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time The first concert in the series looks at Olivier Messiaen and his Quartet for the End of Time, premiered in 1941 at Stalag VIII-A prisoner of war camp where the composer was incarcerated. Olivier Messiaen: La Colombe; Plainte Calme; Theme and Variations; Quartet for the End of Time.
Webern and the Second Viennese School The composers of the second Viennese School, and not least Anton Webern, influenced many of the composers of the second half of the 20th century championed by the London Sinfonietta today. Anton Webern: 3 Lieder; Six Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6; Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 10; Three Traditional Rhymes, Op. 17; Symphony, Op. 21; Three Small Pieces for Cello and Piano, Op. 11; Concerto for Nine Instruments, Op. 24. Arnold Schoenberg: Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16. Alban Berg: Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 5.
Repeating Patterns: The Start of US Minimalism An introduction to the world of minimalism, tracing its origins in 1960s New York loft apartments and art galleries to a cult musical movement in the 70s and beyond. La Monte Young: Composition 1960 #7; X for Henry Flynt. Terry Riley: In C. Steve Reich: It’s Gonna Rain; Clapping Music; Violin Phase. Philip Glass: 1+1; Knee Play 2.
Continuing today and running throughout the autumn at London’s Southbank Centre is a series of events, curated by Will Self, which explores the legacy and provocation of literary Modernism on contemporary writing.
Events today: • Leading novelist and literary critic Gabriel Josipovici asks whether contemporary fiction has lived up to the experimentation and verve of earlier Modernist writing • A discussion of the life of experimental British writer B S Johnson, with Jonathan Coe, author of Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B S Johnson, along with Julia Jordan and Philip Tew, joint editors of Johnson’s work
Other events in the series include: • An evening exploring the legacy of David Foster Wallace’s writing, with his biographer D T Max and writer and comedian David Baddiel • Jacqueline Rose, one of the great contemporary writers on the subjects of literature, psychoanalysis and politics, examining the issue of subjectivity in a lecture entitled The Unfinished Project of Modernism • John Gray discussing Enlightenment dreams and Modernist nightmares with Will Self • Slavoj Žižek discussing his new book The Year of Dreaming Dangerously, an analysis of the riots and revolutions that swept the world last year
Chats Palace Printshop (1977-1998) was a community-based silkscreen and offset litho printing workshop based at Chats Palace arts centre in Homerton, east London. The printshop produced in-house publicity and advertising material as well as non-commercial work for other community organisations. The collection of posters in this blogpost gives an idea of the range and vernacular style of the printshop’s output advertising societies, political groups and events.
Happy Days is the first annual festival to celebrate the work and influence of Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett, It will take place in the Irish island town of Enniskillen, in the heart of the Fermanagh lake district, where Beckett spent his formative years.
Events scheduled include: the first opportunity for UK and Irish audiences to see Joseph Kosuth’s installation 'Texts (Waiting for-) for Nothing' Samuel Beckett, in play; Dublin’s Pan Pan Theatre’s production All That Fall, Robert Wilson, directing and performing in Krapp’s Last Tape; Antony Gormley’s specially-commissioned Godot Tree; and a performance of The Sinking of the Titanic by Gavin Bryars and Ensemble. There will also be several literary events, with appearances from the likes of John Banville, Antonia Fraser, Paul Muldoon, Edna O’Brien and Will Self.
Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival runs from 23rd–27th August 2012.
Interesting piece by Jessica Jenkins on Eye Magazine’s blog today about Überklebt, an exhibition on now in Berlin which features hundreds of posters from the former East Germany, spanning the whole period from just after the Second World War until the fall of the Wall in 1989. The show is curated by Sylke Wunderlich of Stiftung Plakat Ost, a non-profit organisation set up to preserve the GDR’s rich culture of poster art.
The exhibition runs until 17 August 2012.
Überklebt – Plakate aus der DDR Unter den Linden 40 2nd Floor 10117 Berlin Exhibition webpage
Pictured: Die burg stellt aus, by Funkat (1948) via Eye magazine
Modernity of Tradition: Graphic Design in Slovakia after 1918
Interesting piece on Typotheque’s blog about a recently published book of post-WW1 Slovak graphic design entitled Modernosť tradície: Úžitková grafika na Slovensku po roku 1918 (Slovart), written by Professor Ľubomír Longauer of Bratislava Academy of Fine Arts and featuring his collection of thousands of examples of Slovak design. While Czech design has enjoyed a relatively high profile in recent times, that of Slovakia has been somewhat neglected; it is to be hoped that the present volume, the first in a planned series, and a mooted museum of graphic design may help to redress the balance.
Last weekend I visited the Leipziger Buchmesse. Although it’s primarily a trade fair, it seems to be very public-friendly (it attracts more than 160,000 visitors over four days); when I went, the place was swarming with cosplay enthusiasts drawn to a competition in the manga and comics hall.
One of the more interesting areas for me was the Marktplatz Druckgrafik and Buch + Art section, where printmakers, letterpress practitioners, bookbinders and book artists gave demonstrations and showcased their work – something of a celebration of print.
It was also interesting to note the presence of quite a number of Germany’s art schools, whose graphic design and illustration students evidently produce work each year specifically for the fair. I wonder whether many of them end up working for publishers as a direct result of the Leipzig show.
While the Frankfurt Book Fair is bigger and perhaps more international in scope – Leipzig is very much concerned with the German-speaking publishing world – there was much here to be enjoyed for readers of all stripes.
An exhibition celebrating one of the most gifted – but most neglected – British abstract artists has opened at Durham Art Gallery.
John Cecil Stephenson was one of the key figures in the development of abstract painting in Britain, doing much of his most groundbreaking work at the forefront of modernist and constructivist art during the 1930s. He was born to a working-class Bishop Auckland family in 1889. After art school and munitions work during WWI, he settled in Hampstead where his neighbours came to include Herbert Read, Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Naum Gabo. He also became one of Piet Mondrian’s closest friends in London.
He began exploring abstract composition in the early 1930s, initially inspired by forms found in industrial machinery, then progressing to pure geometric non-figuration, contributing over the next decade to many abstract and constructivist exhibitions in England, France and the USA.
Essentially a modest, shy man, Stephenson’s importance was overlooked during his lifetime and after it. He held the position of head of art at Northern Polytechnic in North London for many years, he created murals for the Festival of Britain and architect Bill Curtis’s acclaimed Solar House and he designed glass panels for Queen Mary College and the British pavilion at Brussels Expo 58. Despite this, he didn’t have his first solo show until the late 1950s (he was unable to realise many of his earlier abstract compositions at full size until then due to the short supply of materials). Shortly afterwards though, already by then in his seventies, he suffered a series of strokes which ended his painting career. No public gallery has put on an exhibition of his work for 40 years until now.
Modern Typography: An Essay in Critical History by Robin Kinross is ‘a brisk tour through the history of Western typography, from the time (c.1700 in France and England) when it can be said to have become ”modern”’. It is published by Kinross’s own Hyphen Press. Eye Magazine’s blog has today republished Matthew Carter’s 1992 review of the book. Well worth a read.
The reprinted second edition is available from the Hyphen Press website, from which you can also download a free sample chapter.