In light of the goings-on today in the US, here’s a quick snapshot of the poster for the School of Visual Arts’ America Today lecture series, from November 1971 to April 1972. Designed by Bill Naegels and Push Pin Studios, it enlists the studio’s characteristic use of variation within iterations of a larger structure (here, a simple grid).
Speakers included the expected art critics (“Miss” Barbara Rose) and philosophers (William Irwin Thompson), along with neurobiologist George Wald (who was a recipient of the 1967 Nobel prize for his work on the mechanics of vision), director Dusan Makavejev (who showed what would be his most famous film, WR: Mysteries of the Organism, in Cannes the previous year), and, finally, on 13 April 1972, one Lieutenant John Kerry: “veteran and anti-war spokesman; full-time political activist.”
An exhibition of Navajo Weaving at the Visual Arts Gallery in 1972 described a loom made of cosmic forces, and blankets rendered in “cannel-coal, turquoise, abalone, and white bead” but developed during a “devastating acculturation process.”
One of the earliest exhibitions of Andy Warhol’s provocative “Sickle and Hammer” series was an exhibition of the pencil-and-watercolor drawings of 1976 at the Visual Arts Museum.
From our cache of early SVA course announcements comes this sweet one in dust jacket form for Advanced Children’s Book Illustration taught by Edward Lear disciple and legend himself, Edward Gorey. Too bad Gorey didn’t get to write (I presume) the copy, too.
This is a detail from possibly my all-time favorite SVA poster (click through for the whole image). It was illustrated by Phil Hays in the 1960s while he was chairman of SVA’s illustration department. Hays’ later work, especially his portraits of musicians and Hollywood stars, was markedly more hyperrealistic and decadent than this simple three-pane poster of a woman sitting in a chair, smoking. At first it seems something of a strange ad pitch, yet the subject is serene and satisfied and the work is masterly, somehow making the argument for SVA in its inherent quality.
Another example of paintbrushes (standing in for the artist) combined with another object (here, amid or as the hammers on a typewriter) follows the one we featured last week. The poster this detail is from originally was made to promote a panel discussion between the artists Alice Aycock, Alex Katz, and Lucio Pozzi with critics Lawrence Alloway, Hilton Kramer and moderator Donald Kuspit on the relationship between the artist and critic.
In 1962, SVA appointed Dorothy Koppelman, Alice Neel, and May Stevens to the Fine Arts faculty. Neel’s somewhat opaque description of her course, “Painting People”, still manages to evoke her manner of expressiveness and psychological perception.
Person and chair in room, also space, are structural – only the person inside his structure has other unique qualities which affect the other parts of the painting…sometimes the person gives off the structure around him. Person and background are one in best paintings. Person is psychological reflection of his era.
The subtly provocative design is credited to Frank Kirk, which is not a name I’ve seen on any other SVA publications.
In 1964, the Sanders Printing Corporation invited SVA’s graduating class to produce its periodic promotional publication, Folio.
Labor Day has come and gone, and the Autumn equinox is only a week away; as a send-off to summer, I dug up this charming 1984 promotion for a show at the Visual Arts Museum, featuring a motley assortment of artists—just about everybody under the sun: Fernando Botero, Red Grooms, Alex Katz, Richard Prince, and plenty of others (click through for a list).
Another great example of SVA’s forms from the early George Tscherny identity system. Its almost stuffily balanced width is softened a tiny bit by the lowercase “application.” Love the setting of the serif type and the letter-spaced gothic below. We need to get a vitrine for this whole system (see also: 1 and 2).
Cy Twombly was the subject of two solo exhibitions at SVA, in 1973 and 1977, just before his idiosyncratic work found new favor with the rising generation of neo-Expressionists.
The BFA Fine Arts department has long shown film or video art in the SVA Amphitheatre. These rough posters, spanning three decades, announce screenings of milestone works.
Panel discussions and talks sponsored by the Fine Arts Department in the heady conceptual late-70s and early-80s often adopted a DIY or punk aesthetic in their announcements.