Waiting at the intersection
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
Art & Graphic Design: George Maciunas, Ed Ruscha, Sheila Levrant de BrettevilleBy Benoît Buquet. Yale University Press, £35
Art & Graphic Design is a tantalising title, encapsulating a relationship, or at least an adjacency, that is always present, sometimes explicitly alluded to, but never definitively addressed. Designers are often fascinated by a visual practice in which the maker enjoys an enviable autonomy usually unavailable to themselves. Designing catalogues for artists gives the designer a ringside seat in the art world, but underlines the subservience of the relationship. On the other side of the coin is art that depends to some degree on graphic design – on its techniques and conventions – for its expression. The most likely exponent is an artist educated as a designer, as was the case with George Maciunas and Ed Ruscha, two of Art & Graphic Design’s case studies.
Any account of the ‘art & graphic design’ relationship (for Benoît Buquet, the ampersand signifies their interlacing) must be situated somewhere and will be determined by that viewpoint. It’s possible to imagine a researcher who could address the subject equally from both directions, but it isn’t very likely. It would require degree-level knowledge and career experience of both fields and, even more elusively, a non-hierarchical openness and sympathy for both activities …
Cover of Art & Graphic Design. Top. George Maciunas’s, USA Surpasses All the Genocide Records!, 1966.
Rick Poynor writer, Eye founder, professor of design and visual culture, University of Reading
Read the full article in Eye no. 103 vol. 26, 2022
Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.