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Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design
Moravian Gallery, Brno

Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design
Moravian Gallery, Brno, CZ
24th International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno
June 23 – October 24, 2010

Curator: Rick Poynor

Statement: «The Surrealist movement of the 1920s and 1930s focused on literature, painting, photography and the object, and the Surrealists’ publishing activities provided only hints of what a fully conceived Surrealist graphic design or typography might look like. Many of the most suggestive early examples came from Czechoslovakia, where Surrealism would become a lasting influence. Subsequently, Surrealist ideas and images had a profound impact on image-makers in every sphere of art and design, and by the 1960s the effects of Surrealism were widely felt in international graphic communication. Uncanny traces this intermittent line of development up to the present. Work showing a strong debt to Surrealism emerges only when a designer appears who is attuned to this way of thinking, dreaming and imagining. Most graphic design conforms to an underlying grid, a sense of structure and professional good taste, which brings order but also imposes limits. The images and designs in Uncanny break free from these bureaucratic restrictions and follow the impulses of a wayward, subjective, dreamlike logic to arrive at their own kind of equilibrium and form. They show that graphic design, too, can sometimes be a place to encounter the strange, the fantastical and the uncanny, to rediscover our lost sense of mystery, and to experience the convulsive beauty and capacity for enchantment and wonder that the Surrealists called “the marvellous”.»

Featured designers and graphic artists include: Jan Švankmajer, Eva Švankmajerová, Jindřich Štyrský, Karel Teige, Karel Teissig, Josef Vyleťal, Zdeněk Ziegler (Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic); Roman Cieslewicz, Jan Lenica, Franciszek Starowieyski, Bronislaw Zelek (Poland); Laboratoires CCCP, M/M Paris, (France); Grandpeople (Norway); Andrzej Klimowski, Vaughan Oliver, Brothers Quay, Graham Rawle (UK); Elliott Earls, Edward Fella, Jonathon Rosen, Stefan Sagmeister, Brian Schorn (United States).

Exhibition design: Šárka Ziková
Exhibition graphics: Adam Machácek and Sébastien Bohner


Travelling exhibition:

Moravian Gallery, Brno, Czech Republic
23 June to 24 October 2010

Kunsthall, Rotterdam, Netherlands
24 September – 4 December 2011

Articles by Rick Poynor about the exhibition, design and Surrealism are availabe via designobserver.