Norman Ives’s work was exhibited in major museums and galleries throughout his lifetime. His professional design work involved the creation of symbols, book jackets, and posters. His graphic design shows the same sophistication and mastery of form found in his personal work. Retrospectives have been launched to showcase his brilliance as a fine artist and graphic designer.
The College of Visual and Performing Arts at UMass Dartmouth is proud to present Norman Ives: Constructions & Reconstructions, a major exhibition of his work as artist and designer. Ives’s abstract typographic art works, innovative posters and brochures plus his elegant symbol designs inspired generations of designers and artists.
The exhibition presents examples of Ives’s work beginning in 1951 until his death in 1978. Some of his early works are shown for the first time including a print of a Victorian house composed by hand stamping large 19th century wood fonts, and a stunning woodcut portrait of his classmate Sheilagh Coulter, printed on Japanese Kozo paper.
In 2007 AIGA staged an exhibition of Norman Ives’s work curated by John T. Hill. They stated that it was rare for artists to be honored in diverse fields and cited the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney who selected Ives for their prestigious exhibitions. The AIGA exhibition reflected his range and dexterity as an artist.
In 1967 the Museum of Modern Art mounted an exhibition 3 graphic designers—Norman Ives, Massimo Vignelli and Almir Mavignier. Nineteen pieces were exhibited and five of those were Ives’s work. In addition, Ives was included in the MoMA book, The Art of the Poster.
Mildred Constantine, Associate Curator, Graphic Design, MoMA, commented that Ives used very little pictorial imagery and had gone even further with typography than Vignelli, by making the single letter, numeral or symbol the main element of a composition. She noted that in Ives’s work, each element is a separate entity, yet an inextricable part of one letter, the adjoining letter, and the total design.
In 1967 Ives’s work was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition 3 graphic designers, as mentioned above. In December of that same year, Ives’s eight-foot-square painting Number 3-L was chosen for the Whitney Museum of American Art’s exhibition of contemporary painting. In addition his painting was one of those selected for the accompanying catalog, From the168 works accepted about a third were included in the catalog.
Artists whose work appeared in this milestone event is a striking roster of the day’s premier talents, including Josef Albers, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cy Twombly, Mark Tobey, Willem de Kooning, Alex Katz, Ben Shahn, and Andy Warhol.
Artists could directly submit their work for consideration, or their work might be submitted by a gallery. The Stable Gallery is listed as the lender of Ives’s painting. Eleanor Ward had established her gallery and herself as synonymous with avant-garde art. As an unequaled seer, she was the first to exhibit the work of many of these artists.
His early work was exhibited by the Stable Gallery in New York, which was an avant-garde creation of Eleanor Ward, a foresighted genius who recognized the potential of Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Franz Kline, and other promising contemporaries of Norman Ives. He was also exhibited at Sydney Janis Gallery, Saidenberg Gallery, Marilyn Pearl Gallery, and various others.