11 October 2015
Oct 5–Dec 14, 2015
Tues, Dec 8, 2015 from 6–8pm
Ildiko Butler Gallery
113 West 60th Street
(60th St. and Columbus Ave.)
New York, NY 10023 map
Gallery Hours: Mon–Sat 10am–9pm
The dissemination and configuration of information is more important than ever with the internet, mobile gadgets and social media as the default means of communication, commerce and research. Data organization and accessibility has its roots in the work of graphic designer, Ladislav Sutnar (1897-1976). From 1941–60, Sutnar, who had settled in New York City in 1939 after migrating from Czechoslovakia, served as the art director for F.W. Dodge Corporation’s Sweet’s Catalog Service, producers of a wide range of industrial catalogs.
Sweet’s catalogs brought together into one source plumbing, electrical, and building supplies which were marketed to the architecture and engineering trades. Along with his team of researchers, writers and designers (including Director of Research Knud Lönberg-Holm), Sutnar transformed the complex language of product information into clear, concise, and easy to use visual communication. The attributes of these ground-breaking catalogs are the precursor to what we now refer to as information design.
Sutnar’s designs were rooted in the Modernist and Constructivist ideas of the European Avant Garde. His well-defined visual systems and standardized ways of navigating information integrated form and content into dynamic visual units. Sutnar controlled the flow of information using geometric shapes, symbols, blocks of color, thick rules, logical navigation aids, indexes and typographic hierarchy.
This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see over fifty Sweet’s catalogs along with other published work by Sutnar relating to information design (exhibition checklist pdf). The examples show how careful analysis and fundamental problem solving can revolutionize new standards of form and function. Sutnar’s pioneering work is as relevant today as it was more than 74 years ago. He was a master at making the complex simple, an arduous challenge that continues to resonate today.
Ladislav Sutnar: Pioneer of Information Design is curated by Patricia Belen & Greg D’Onofrio – founders of Display, Graphic Design Collection. Special thanks to Fordham University Visual Arts Department, Abby Goldstein, Stephan Apicella-Hitchcock and Margaret McCauley.