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CINCINNATI’S MODERNIST PIONEERS INSPIRE CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS AND DESIGNERS
Contemporary Arts Center exhibits the work of contemporary artists
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
High resolution images available upon request
Stacey Czar, Public Relations Director
Contemporary Arts Center
Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art
44 East Sixth Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Tel: 513.345.8415 E-mail: pr@CACmail.org
Opening Night: Friday, December 8 • 7 – 11 pm • Free and open to the public
December 8 is Charley Harper Day by Mayoral Proclamation!
Special Guest: Graphic Content exhibition designer Todd Oldham
CINCINNATI—Contemporary Arts Center ends 2006 with the most anticipated exhibition of the year. Graphic Content: Contemporary and Modern/Art and Design unites the internationally praised work of Cincinnati’s modernist pioneers with the work of today’s most exciting emerging artists. Designer/celebrity Todd Oldham’s enthusiasm for Modernist painter and illustrator Charley Harper’s work sparked the inspiration for this exhibition. Graphic Content opens on Charley Harper Day, December 8, 2006 at 7 pm and continues with five rotations through February 11, 2008 in CAC’s 2nd floor gallery.
Oldham designed the graphic identity for the exhibition, and he is providing La-Z-Boy gallery furniture with textiles designed by his studio with Charley Harper. Oldham is also producing a book of Harper’s artwork called Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life.
Graphic Content: Contemporary and Modern/Art and Design
Cincinnati’s Modernist Pioneers and Contemporary Peers
Following in the format of last season's Gadget: Mechanics and Motion in Contemporary Art, this unique series of successive exhibitions combines historical and contemporary perspectives on art and design in a constantly evolving gallery setting. The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation and Harriet Rauh Family Galleries will house a rotating display of objects and installations, an extensive Resource Lounge designed to provide support material for all of the CAC’s programming, and a series of accompanying lectures and presentations designed to complement the exhibition. The first rotation features modernist designers Charley Harper and Malcolm Grear paired with internationally acclaimed contemporary artist Ryan McGinness, who first exhibited in the Contemporary Arts Center’s Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture in 2003.Charley Harper and Malcolm Grear: Influencing Younger Generations
World-renowned artists set the graphic identity of their era – while working or studying in Cincinnati
In the 1940s and 50s, Cincinnati was a global center for Modern design. Drawn to Cincinnati by world-class printers, the Art Academy of Cincinnati and the Contemporary Arts Center, Modernist designers such as Charley and Edie Harper, Noel and Coletta Martin, Malcolm Grear, Maybelle Stamper and Margaret Wenstrup made much of their most influential work in Cincinnati. Graphic Content chronicles the influences of these legendary Modernist pioneers by pairing their work with artworks created by younger artists. These 21st Century artists are thriving by reviving the brilliant, bold, stylistic approach to design that flourished in an earlier century.
In his 60-year career, Cincinnati artist Charley Harper illustrated nature posters for the U.S. National Park Service and books such as The Golden Book of Biology. Harper also gained acclaim creating highly stylized, rich, colorful paintings of birds, insects and other animals. He studied and taught at the Art Academy, where he met his wife, artist Edie Harper, whose work is also featured in Graphic Content.
Malcolm Grear, a contemporary of Charley Harper’s and a student of another Graphic Content artist Noel Martin at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, also gained international acclaim for his starkly vivid designs. Applying the spare, reductive forms of Modern art and architecture to his logo and product design for clients such as the Attleboro Arts Museum, the Guggenheim Museum and the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Grear shaped the visual identity of many influential, nationally renowned institutions. The Guggenheim, with its iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed spiral architecture, used Grear’s stark design for its long-standing identity campaign. Grear has been a major figure in the design industry for 45 years, and currently serves as the Helen M. Danforth Professor Emeritus at Rhode Island School of Design.
A New Generation of Contemporary Artists Inspired by Modernist Masters
Ryan McGinness, inspired by Grear and Harper, revives reductive forms with a Baroque conclusion
Ryan McGinness is one such artist who takes his inspiration from Harper and other Modernist artists. His dramatically beautiful, large-and-small-scale installations, paintings and illustrations possess a pop-cultural familiarity with a connection to Harper’s vivid creations. Working in Harper’s tradition but employing a distinctly contemporary approach infused with ad-world design, McGinness is poised as this generation’s answer to Harper’s colorful artistic style.
While Harper uses stark color and sharp lines to express his ideas in austere simplicity, McGinness borrows from the simplified imagery of contemporary culture and adds baroque embellishment. The result of both artists’ work has a similar quality: color becomes a medium of communication, and bold, brash brushstrokes become the language.
In ArtForum, Donald Kuspit writes that McGinness “dispenses with text altogether in favor of baroque decoration, excited lines and rich colors converging in spontaneous pseudologos with a legibility all their own.” And in his book about Harper, Todd Oldham writes, “Charley’s inspired yet accurate color sense is undeniable, and when combined with the precision he exacts on rendering only the most important details, one is always left with a sense of awe.”
Graphic creations by Grear and Harper became icons of mid-century visual culture and inspired a new generation of designers interested in reviving their vivid color, high-contrast, simplified design.
The exhibition Graphic Content: Contemporary and Modern/Art and Design features Modernist designers with significant Cincinnati connections paired with international contemporary artists of today.
- Charley Harper studied and taught at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and lives in Cincinnati.
- Edie Harper studied and taught at the Art Academy and worked for the Modern Art Society (CAC’s precursor) and the Cincinnati Art Museum.
- William Albers Leonard studied at the Art Academy and served as director of the CAC at one time, where he brought the earliest exhibitions of Pop Art to the Midwest and oversaw the funding and construction of the first CAC space on 5th Street in Downtown Cincinnati.
- Ralston Crawford taught at the Art Academy in the 1940s.
- Coletta Martin studied at the Art Academy and exhibited at the CAM and the Jewish Community Center in Cincinnati.
- Noel Martin studied and taught at the Art Academy and the University of Cincinnati. He has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, CAC and Indiana University.
- Preston McClanahan studied at the Art Academy and has exhibited at the CAC. He moved on to teach at Rhode Island School of Design, where he became nationally known.
- Maybelle Stamper taught at the Art Academy from 1938 through 1943 and exhibited at the Modern Art Society. Her retrospective traveled to the CAM.
- Margaret Wenstrup studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and won a Wilder Scholarship. She studied with Ralston Crawford in New York and has exhibited at the CAC, CAM and Miami University.
Artist Bios for Initial Rotation of Graphic Content
A central figure in the world of design for a half century, as well as Professor Emeritus at Rhode Island School of Design, Malcolm Grear is recognized as one of America’s most celebrated designers and educators. Grear, together with his design studio, Malcolm Grear Designers, has participated on all levels of visual communication and has produced some of the most globally recognizable images for 45 years.
A student of Noel Martin at the Art Academy of Cincinnati in the 1950s, Grear applied the spare, reductive forms of Modern art, architecture and design to typography, logos, signage and product design for a wide range of clients, including Harvard University, Microsoft, United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, the Guggenheim Museum and the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Born in rural Mill Springs, Kentucky, during the Great Depression, Malcolm Grear grew up accustomed to having to invent from nothing a solution to whatever challenge he faced. It was an influence that pervaded his entire career. In 1960 Grear was recruited to teach at the Rhode Island School of Design and helped to form the Graphic Design department. The practice of inventing a solution where none exists together with his view that good design can bring not just beauty but can serve as a source of inspiration are the cornerstones of his work. His Web URL is: www.mgrear.com.
Best known for the children’s book The Golden Book of Biology, Harper is an extraordinarily prolific graphic designer contributing his unique, geometric style to a wide range of publications, including Ford Times, Betty Crocker’s Dinner for Two Cookbook and graphics produced by the Audubon Society and the National Park Service. As a master illustrator and designer inspired by Modernism, Harper developed a unique geometric style. A graduate of the Art Academy, Harper’s depictions of nature—especially birds—is a major influence for contemporary artists and designers today, including Ryan McGinness and Todd Oldham.
Born in West Virginia in 1922, Harper’s upbringing on his family farm informs his work to this day. He left his farm home to study art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and there he met his wife, artist Edie Harper. He later taught at the Art Academy while he and Edie raised their son, Brett.
In an interview with Todd Oldham for the book Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life, Harper discusses his simplified forms: “I don’t think there was much resistance to the way I simplified things. I think everybody understood that. Some people liked it and others didn’t care for it. There’s some who want to count all the feathers in the wings and then others who never think about counting the feathers, like me.
Born in Virginia Beach, Ryan McGinness studied art at Carnegie Mellon University, worked as a curatorial assistant at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and currently lives and makes art in New York City. A leading member of a new generation of designers and artists who focus equally on design and its marketing and distribution, McGinness creates innovative images, products, and environments. He combines the flatness of computer graphics with postmodern sample-and-grab appropriation techniques to create his own cheerfully subversive design culture.
McGinness’s pop-culture appropriation, larger-than-life presentation and precise visual character have brought him comparisons to Andy Warhol as well as to ancient tapestry makers. Far from derivative, however, McGinness’s wildly ornate imagery has made him one of the most beloved artists of this decade. His Web URL is www.ryanmcginness.com.
About the Exhibition
Graphic Content: Contemporary and Modern / Art and Design
Cincinnati’s Modernist Pioneers and their Contemporary Peers
December 8, 2006 at 7 pm through February 11, 2008
Graphic Content pairs mid-century Modern design and painting with an emphasis on Cincinnati-based artists with contemporary works and installations by artists several generations younger. These pairings explore the blurred distinction between artist and designer, suggesting that such a designation has been called into question since at least mid-century. In addition, the selections highlight the unique community of artists working in Cincinnati in the 1940s and 50s. The CAC's own history is fundamentally connected to this group of artists, among them Ralston Crawford, Noel Martin, William A. Leonard, Charley Harper and Edie Harper. Not only did these artists exhibit their work with the young museum (then called the Modern Art Society) but they also worked as designers and administrators, shaping the structure and graphic identity of the organization through logo design, printed material and catalogues. Recent generations of artists have begun looking back to the territory that was mined by the designers, artists and Modernists of the 20th Century. Graphic Content presents new installations paired with works from the mid-20th Century to highlight the relevance of exploring the history of artistic and commercial production generated from this region.
The installation and graphic identity of this exhibition is designed by Todd Oldham. Oldham, one of the most influential and prolific designers working today, frequently branches into areas beyond the traditional scope of contemporary design. His work bridges gaps between design theory and practical applications. With many of his projects Oldham has quoted from the language of modernity, providing new perspectives on mid-century artists and designers.
Participating artists: Ellen Berkenblit, Ralston Crawford, Amy Granat, Charley Harper, Edie Harper, William A. Leonard, Coletta Martin, Noel Martin, Preston McClanahan, Ryan McGinness, Dave Miko, Maybelle Stamper, and Margaret Wenstrup.
Rotation dates and groupings:
December 8, 2006 – February 26, 2007: Charley Harper, Malcolm Grear and Ryan McGinness
March 5 – May 28, 2007: Noel Martin, William A. Leonard and Dave Miko
June 4 – September 3, 2007: Edie Harper, Maybelle Stamper and Ellen Berkenblit
September 10 – December 3, 2007: Preston McClanahan, Coletta Martin and Amy Granat
December 10, 2007 – February 11, 2008: Ralston Crawford and Margaret Wenstrup
Calendar Listings Celebrating this Exhibition
Friday, December 8 • 7 – 11 pm • FREE and open to the public
Opening Reception: Graphic Content
Special Guest: Graphic Content exhibition designer Todd Oldham
Saturday, December 9 • 2 pm • Performance Space • FREE and open to the public
Conversation: Charley Harper and Malcolm Grear
Join us for this conversation between renowned graphic designers Charley Harper and Malcolm Grear.
Sunday, April 22 • 1-4 pm • UnMuseum® • FREE with Museum Admission
Family Sundays: Visual Culture
Teacher and artist Christian Schmitt guides the children as they create their own graphic work inspired by the paintings of Noel Martin and the Graphic Content exhibition.
Monday, March 5 • 6:30-7:30 pm • $7, Members $5; Students FREE
Milestones of Contemporary Art
DESIGN: A Graphic History of the CAC
A conversation with Noel Martin and Dan Leonard
Some of the greatest graphic designers of the 20th Century have called Cincinnati home, and the Contemporary Arts Center hired many of the best to design its exhibition catalogues and posters. Join a conversation following with graphic designer and painter Noel Martin and Dan Leonard (son of William A. Leonard, artist and former CAC Director who is featured, along with Martin, in the exhibition Graphic Content).
MILESTONES is the Contemporary Arts Center's annual exploration of contemporary art that offers an engaging, accessible introduction to the art of today. The course begins with a look at how a museum's physical space changes over time. In the programs that follow, CAC curatorial staff and guest speakers provide a weekly opportunity to access contemporary art across a wide range of disciplines. Open to the public, the course is designed for anyone with an interest in learning more about the sometimes challenging world of contemporary art. Held Monday evenings, 6:30 to 7:30 pm, January 29 through March 12, 2007 (skipping February 19). The cost to the public for attending all six sessions is $30 with a single lecture admission of $7. CAC members can attend all sessions for the discounted rate of $20 with single lecture admission of $5. The course is free to CAC members (Collectors' Connection level and above) and all students with picture IDs.
CHARLEY HARPER DAY: DECEMBER 8 BY MAYORAL PROCLAMATION
Be It Proclaimed:
Whereas, the brilliantly rich, colorful paintings, prints and illustrations made by artist Charley Harper have delighted Cincinnatians and art lovers around the world since the 1940s; and
Whereas, Charley Harper began his illustrious 60-year career as an artist when he attended The Art Academy of Cincinnati, where he later taught and inspired younger artists; and
Whereas, his bold, stylized images of natural scenes and his whimsical representations of animals have contributed to Charley Harper’s vision of “protecting and preserving nature;” and
Whereas, a new generation of contemporary graphic artists have been moved and inspired by Charley Harper’s simplified, beautiful imagery and his visionary imagination; and
Whereas, Charley Harper’s friendship and mentorship of graphic artist Todd Oldham have inspired the Contemporary Arts Center to exhibit works pairing Cincinnati’s mid-century modernist pioneers and contemporary peers in a 15-month exhibition entitled “Graphic Content: Contemporary and Modern/Art and Design;” and
Whereas, Todd Oldham describes Charley Harper’s work as “a marvel, brilliant in a way I had never seen before,” possessing a “lyrically joyous style,” “a remarkable and exquisite color sense” and writes that “Charley’s inspired yet accurate color sense is undeniable, and when combined with the precision he exacts on rendering only the most important details, one is always left with a sense of awe,”
Now, Therefore, I, Mark Mallory ,Mayor of the City of Cincinnati do hereby proclaim Friday, December 8, 2006 as CHARLEY HARPER DAY in Cincinnati.
About the Contemporary Arts Center
Founded in 1939 as the Modern Art Society by three visionary women in Cincinnati, Contemporary Arts Center was one of the first institutions in the U.S. dedicated to exhibiting the art of our time. In May 2003, the Center relocated to its first free-standing home, the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, designed by Zaha Hadid. Throughout its distinguished 67-year history, the Center has earned a reputation for stimulating thought and introducing new ideas by presenting the work of diverse artists from around the world, including hundreds of now-famous artists such as Laurie Anderson, Jasper Johns, Louise Nevelson, Nam June Paik, I.M. Pei, Robert Rauschenberg, Kara Walker and Andy Warhol. CAC focuses on new developments in painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, performance art and new media, presenting 8 to 12 exhibitions and 20 to 40 performances annually.
Monday: 10 am-9 pm (5 pm-9 pm free admission)
Wednesday – Friday: 10 am-6 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 11 am-6 pm
Adults $7.50; Seniors (65+) $6.50; Students w/ID $5.50; Children (3-13) $4.50
Members and Children under 3 free. Annual memberships start at $45.
The CAC receives ongoing support from the Fine Arts Fund, Ohio Arts Council, City of Cincinnati and AllOver Media.
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