Monday, July 4, 2016

Typography as an act of art at State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki

Apr 12, 2016 - Jul 9, 2016
This is an exhibition-journey to the most important artistic movements of the 20th century a journey which begins from the years and the artists of the Russian Avant-Garde, crosses major stops of the European and American modernism and finally reaches the works by contemporary artists from Greece and abroad. It is an exhibition-journey on the depiction of speech as an image, additionally through a special unit of artists books or livres d’artistes.

As soon as we begin to get acquainted with the great artistic adventure known as the ‘Russian avant-garde’, we become aware that the involved artists did not confine themselves to one field but extended their activities and experimentation into all the arts. Futurist books, which featured prominently in the Russian avant-garde, were published with cubist and primitivist illustrations, with typographic experimentation and the use of a ‘transrational’ (zaum) poetic language. They are another example of the desire of the artists of the avant-garde to create a synthesis of the arts, to achieve a radical reformation of the codes of representation and communication with their audience.

Even though the contribution of the Russian Futurism movements in the development of artists’ books is of great importance, Western historiography has predominantly integrated the accomplishments of the Italian Futurists, Expressionists, Dadaists, and Dutch De Stijl in experimental typography, the imaginative assembly of image and speech, the disengagement of letters from syntactical and descriptive function, and the formation of new representation traditions, free from the subservient relationship between speech and image or vice versa.

Today, the field of artists’ books experiences a new booming and covers areas that are either confined to two dimensions in the form of books’ pages put up on a wall, on a reading surface etc, or expand in space in the form of sculptures and installations.

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