New Work: ‘Chaos and Classicism’

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Following the chaos of World War I, European art turned away from avant-garde abstraction and looked for a “return to order,” a shift towards clean lines, classicism and—unsurprisingly, given the destruction of the first machine-age war—the depiction of the human figure intact. The result was an aesthetic of “clarity” that worked its way through a variety of ideals, from the High Modernism of the Bauhaus, to the fascism of Mussolini’s revived Roman Empire, to—most chillingly—the Aryanism of Nazi culture. The Guggenheim’s major fall exhibition, Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy, and Germany, 1918-1936, is the first in the United States to examine this international phenomenon. Pentagram’s Abbott Miller has designed the exhibition graphics and catalogue for the show, which opened this weekend and remains on view through January 9, 2011.

Make a Joyful Woof

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Today marks the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the natural world. To celebrate, the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York held its popular annual Blessing of the Animals yesterday. Churchgoers brought a menagerie of cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets, turtles, guinea pigs, hamsters, macaws, swans, llamas, a goat, a peacock and even a camel to receive blessings from cathedral clergy. To help raise funds, Pentagram designed special t-shirts for the humans in attendance that read “Holy Cow!,” “Make a Joyful Woof” and “Make a Joyful Meow.” The graphics follow our identity for the Cathedral, using the custom font Divine. Judging by the raucous bleats and barks, all present had a heavenly good time.

New Work: MPA


Animation of the new MPA logo.

Readers of magazines today engage with their favorite publications on screen as often as on the printed page. Magazine content now extends across various platforms, including websites, tablets, smart phones, books, live events and more. To better reflect the growing ways—online and offline—that magazine content reaches consumers, the Magazine Publishers of America has changed its name to MPA – The Association of Magazine Media. Paula Scher has designed a new graphic identity to accompany the name change, which officially launches at the organization’s annual American Magazine Conference (AMC) on Monday, October 4, in Chicago.

The MPA is the industry association for multi-platform magazine companies. Founded in 1919, the organization represents approximately 225 domestic magazine media companies—including industry giants like Condé Nast, Time Inc. and Meredith—and more than 1,000 titles. The MPA name is well known and has been kept as initials in the new identity. It is now joined by a new tagline—“The Association of Magazine Media”—which describes the organization’s true scope. By adopting the well-established initials MPA as the organization’s formal name and dropping publishers from its tagline, MPA is underscoring the fact that magazine media content engages consumers across multiple platforms.

New Work: ‘Event Horizon’

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We’ve been feeling a little lonely since the figures of Event Horizon, this summer’s blockbuster public art installation in and around Madison Square Park, packed up and left town over a month ago. A new exhibition catalogue published by the Madison Square Park Conservancy and its Mad. Sq. Art program commemorates the visitation of Antony Gormley’s 31 life-size figures to the park and the rooftops of the surrounding buildings.

The book, produced in a limited edition, includes over 70 photographs by James Ewing of the installed sculptures and candid reaction shots of New Yorkers on the street encountering them for the first time. The book also features an original short story by Man Booker-prize nominated novelist Colm Tóibín and reflections by an array of New Yorkers, including NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, area restaurateur Danny Meyer, architects Deborah Berke and Hugh Hardy, and Pentagram’s own Paula Scher and Nazim Ali, superintendent of our building at 204 Fifth. Scher designed the book using the graphic identity she created for the exhibition and the park.

The limited edition catalogue goes on sale tomorrow, Wednesday, September 29. Get your copy here.

A look inside the book after the jump.

Pentagram Welcomes Eddie Opara

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On 15 September Pentagram welcomed its newest partner, Eddie Opara, with a gala party at our New York studio. Over 300 friends, clients and colleagues of Pentagram and Map, Eddie’s studio, came together to celebrate.

New Work: ‘Better Homes and Gardens’

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Hitting newsstands this week, the October issue of Better Homes and Gardens is the first issue of the magazine newly refreshed by Luke Hayman and his team. Pentagram collaborated with Editor in Chief Gayle Goodson Butler, Executive Editor Kitty Morgan and Art Director Michael Belknap, who implemented the launch issue with his team.

The nation’s third largest magazine in paid circulation, Better Homes and Gardens has circulation of 7.6 million and a readership of 39 million. Founded in 1922, it is one of the “Seven Sisters” and has guided generations of women in the creation and enrichment of their lives, homes and families. The magazine is the flagship publication of Meredith, the country’s leading media and marketing company serving American women, and the Better Homes and Gardens brand extends to books, products, and television programming. Clean, classic and modern, the refresh is timed to the introduction of new features and designed to serve the magazine’s readers.

New Work: ‘Earth (The Book)’

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What would we leave behind to explain ourselves after the world ends, and aliens find the remnants of our civilization? That is the premise of Earth (The Book): A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race, the new book from the Comedy Central series The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. The book is a humorous summation of, well, everything—what we looked like, what we accomplished, and our achievements in society, government, religion, science and culture, all in 246 pages. The book is the follow-up to the blockbuster America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction, which sold over 2 million copies, stayed on The New York Times bestseller list for over a year and was the biggest non-fiction seller of 2004. Earth is one of the most eagerly awaited releases of the fall 2010 book season.

Pentagram designed both books in close collaboration with Jon Stewart and the Daily Show writers. America (The Book) was about government and the design was attached loosely to the format of a civics textbook, using bureaucratic and educational charts and diagrams. Earth (The Book) is modeled on an illustrated reference book like those published by Dorling Kindersley or National Geographic. Profusely illustrated with photos, graphs, charts, timelines and running sidebars, the book contains many more visual jokes than America. To design the book, Paula Scher, lead designers Drea Zlanabitnig and Rami Moghadam and a cast of thousands became indentured servants of the joke.

New Work: Queens Metropolitan Campus

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Over the past decade, Paula Scher has explored using superscale typography in environmental graphics for interiors and urban environments—corporate headquarters, museums, performing arts centers and schools—most recently in her graphics for the Achievement First Endeavor Middle School. At the same time, Scher has created a series of large-scale typographic map paintings and prints that examine ideas of location and ways of seeing the world. Now Scher has merged her environmental graphics and painting to create a remarkable new work: a pair of murals at the new Queens Metropolitan Campus in Forest Hills, which includes Queens Metropolitan High School and the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School, a middle school. The murals were completed as a commission for the Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art program, in partnership with the NYC School Construction Authority Public Art for Public Schools program.

The two murals are located in an atrium and commons at the Metropolitan Campus and each cover approximately 2,430 square feet. One of the murals, a view of the New York metropolitan region with a focus on Queens, was completed this week; a second, of Metropolitan Avenue, will be installed in October. In the murals, New York City sprawls across the walls in vibrant color, wrapping around walls, corners and ceiling, creating a world in a room. As in her map paintings, locations in the murals are misspelled or misidentified; Scher seems to be figuring out the geography along with the students, creating a joyous sense of recognition that mirrors the learning process.

“Everyone is looking up with a general sense of awe and wonder,” says Marci Levy-Maguire, principal of Queens Metropolitan High School, one of the schools on campus. “People feel special in the building, and the mural is a reflection of that. There is a focus on personalization. Everyone looks up at the mural and finds something personal to them.”

“These works marry my love of painting maps with my love of environmental design,” says Scher. “When the viewer enters the atrium, they have entered the painting. They are enveloped by it. Space is altered by it. For that moment in time, all perspectives are skewed. The viewer gets to inhabit Queens in a manner at once, totally familiar and bizarre. The viewer can recognize places and roads and even locate themselves within the map. They are ‘there,’ and then, again, they are not.”

New Work: New York University Abu Dhabi

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The inaugural class began its studies this week at New York University Abu Dhabi, the first comprehensive liberal arts and sciences campus to be operated abroad by a major U.S. research university. The next step towards NYU’s ambition to create a global network for the creation of knowledge, NYUAD was created in partnership with the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. This partnership is the outcome of a shared understanding of the essential roles and challenges of higher education in the 21st century, and of the alignment of NYU’s goals for global education with the forward-looking goals of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. There is no other such institution in the Middle East.

Pentagram was initially asked to design a graphic identity for this new institution, and subsequently has created a wide range of material to support NYUAD’s activities. The creative challenge was to devise a graphic language that would clearly link the umbrella New York University identity with the cultural context of Abu Dhabi, the Emrirates, and the Middle East.