The Surface of Design

The Surface of Design

Purchase College, State University of New York

(1) Peter Behrens, 1916. (2) EyeBodega, 2015. (3) Venturi Scott Brown, 1979–84. (4) Our Polite Society, 2014. (5) A Practice for Everyday Life, 1954–75, detail 2013. (6) Cory Arcangel, 2014. (7) Metahaven, 2014. (8) Karel Martens, 2015–16. (9) Maureen Mooren, 2010. (10) Antoine Catala, 2014. (11) Verso Books / Erik Carter, 2015–16. (12) Stéphane Mallarmé,1914.*
September 21, 2016
The Surface of Design

October 3–November 11, 2016

Purchase College, SUNY
Richard and Dolly Maass Gallery
School of Art+Design
735 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
Hours: Monday–Friday noon–5pm

The Surface of Design, curated by A+D Guest Curator Mark Owens, considers the question of surface in relation to contemporary graphic design, taking its name from a seminal essay by the critic and philosopher Jacques Rancière. Considering the origins of graphic design at the turn of the 20th century, Rancière finds in the notion of design as surface the potential for a wholesale reorientation of lived experience through the creation of streamlined “types” that might serve as “the formative principle of a new communal life.”

In “styling life by styling its furnishings,” graphic design is thus understood as taking place along a common surface in which words, images, objects, and actions are brought into a new relation of equivalence. Beyond the traditional divisions between the poetic and the professional, or the modern and postmodern, “The flat surface,” Rancière reminds us, “was always a surface of communication where words and images slid into one another.”

Moving from this basic insight, the exhibition considers the implications of Rancière’s arguments for the 21st century. Bringing together select historical objects and work by contemporary artists and graphic designers, the exhibition is organized around a set or cluster of material practices. This includes decoration and the spatialization of graphic form in the creation of wallpaper, supergraphics, and décor, as well as design for the surface of the computer screen that interrogates its status as the newest platform for the construction of shared experience. In addition, the exhibition explores how new technologies such as 3D printing have begun to open up production and the design process in ways that trouble notions of “typing” and “prototyping” and of two-dimensional and three-dimensional space. Between these poles lies the printed page, and the exhibition attends to this oldest of graphic forms and how these recent developments highlight the notion of “the public” in “publication” in the design of book covers, posters, and printed matter.

Taken together, the works in The Surface of Design shed new light on graphic design as “a surface of communication” and ask what material practices and new forms of “communal life” it might make possible.

Featuring work by: Cory Arcangel, Peter Behrens, Antoine Catala, EyeBodega, Hammer Prints Ltd., Stéphane Mallarmé, Karel Martens, Metahaven, Maureen Mooren, Our Polite Society, A Practice for Everyday Life, Venturi Scott Brown, and Verso Books / Erik Carter
Exhibition curated and conceived by A+D guest curator Mark Owens 


Public programs
Wednesday, October 5, 4:30pm:
Lecture with EyeBodega
The School of Art+Design, Purchase College
Room 1016 Visual Arts Building

Tuesday, October 18, 4:30pm:
Artist talk with Antoine Catala
The School of Art+Design, Purchase College
Room 1016 Visual Arts Building

Wednesday, October 26, 6:30pm
Conversation with curator Mark Owens and designer Erik Carter
The Type Directors Club
347 W. 36th St. Suite 603
New York NY 10018

All activities are free and open to the public


About The School of Art+Design
The School of Art+Design, part of the School of the Arts at Purchase College, SUNY, offers premiere programs that prepare students for careers in the visual arts and design, as well as lives informed by aesthetic experience. The school honors tradition, encourages experimentation and collaboration, develops critical thinking, and embraces new concepts, materials, and technologies. A faculty of working artists is committed to creating a supportive climate in which students are passionate about learning to see, to think, to make and to reflect. Our students are leaders in cultural production throughout the world.

School of the Arts exhibitions and programs in the Richard & Dolly Maass Gallery are supported, in part, by the Purchase College Foundation and through an endowment from Richard and Dolly Maass.


*Image above: (1) Peter Behrens, AEG Electric Tea Kettle, 1916. (2) EyeBodega, Prototypes, 2015. (3) Venturi Scott Brown, “Queen Anne” Chair, 1979–84. (4) Our Polite Society, Capitalis Brutalis, 2014. (5) A Practice for Everyday Life, Nigel Henderson and Eduardo Paolozzi; Hammer Prints Ltd. 1954–75, detail 2013. (6) Cory Arcangel, Going Negative / Lakes, 2014. (7) Metahaven, Holly Herndon “Home,” 2014. Music video. (8) Karel Martens, 2015–16. Print materials. (9) Maureen Mooren, Holland Festival posters, 2010. (10) Antoine Catala, Logo to Self Consciousness, 2014. (11) Verso Books / Erik Carter, Verso Futures, 2015–16. (12) Stéphane Mallarmé, Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira Le Hasard (facsimile),1914.


The Surface of Design at Richard and Dolly Maass Gallery Purchase College, SUNY

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Purchase College, State University of New York
September 21, 2016

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