Image courtesy Nigel Green
Schmuck, POP, bRIAN, Assembling
This exhibition sets out a new way of looking at graphic design history by focusing on four publications from the late-1960s to mid-1970s – Schmuck, POP, bRIAN and Assembling – designed by individuals and groups without any formal training of typography, graphic design or print production.
Technological developments at the end of the 1960s enabled artists to combine text and images and publish their own material. Artists were now in control of content and the form of a publication could be explored, creating a new energy and enthusiasm for print.
Beau Geste Press ran eight issues of the magazine Schmuck between 1972-1978 which focused on Fluxus and Mail Art. Full of pull-outs and artworks, its tactile quality was due to the process of using IBM Selectric typewriter which enabled the user to make typographic decisions and be in control of the design.
In POP und die Folgen [POP and the Consequences] from 1968, German artist Wolf Vostell took on the role of visualiser using playful typographical display and photographic collages. Vostell also produced publications documenting his own performances, décollage and video work, employing Letraset in a crude way and maintaining the letter guidelines and cracks that most graphic designers would correct.
The German printer, artist and publisher Hansjörg Mayer aimed to push the limits of what could be possible with a printing machine and embraced the notion chance. Using the offset printing plates as covers, bRIAN is a publication which Mayer produced with his students whilst teaching at Watford School of Art in the 1960s and ‘70s.
Assemblings is a series of 13 anthologies of supposedly unpublishable material. Created by Richard Kostelanetz and Henry Korns’s New York Assembling Press between 1970 and 1982, the content design and printing was left up to the contributors. This resulted in a mix of content, design paper stock and printing methods producing a feast of consistent inconsistency.
Although rough and by no means technically perfect, the publications on display are full of individuality, craftsmanship and inventiveness making the hand of the designer visible.
Fraser Muggeridge is a graphic designer based in London, UK. He works with artists, galleries and cultural institutions to create printed matter. He also teaches at the University of Reading, UK, and Camberwell College of Art, London, and runs Typography Summer School in London and New York, USA.