The College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) at UMass Dartmouth is proud to present Norman Ives: Constructions & Reconstructions, in the CVPA Campus Gallery from September 7 through October 23. This major exhibition of Ives’s work as artist and designer showcases some early works that will be on display for the first time.
The exhibition contains Ives’s abstract typographic art, innovative posters and brochures, and elegant symbol designs that have inspired generations of designers and artists. Ives’s range of talent became evident in 1967 when his eight-foot square painting, Number 3-L, was selected for the 1967 Whitney Annual Exhibition of American Artists. That same year, the Museum of Modern Art mounted an exhibition titled 3 graphic designers featuring the work of Norman Ives, Massimo Vignelli, and Almir Mavignier.
The exhibition is curated by John T. Hill, author, designer, and a former student and faculty colleague of Ives. Ives and Hill were part of Yale University’s Department of Graphic Design led by Alvin Eisenman, whose orchestration of groundbreaking faculty reshaped the field of commercial art into a more demanding profession, graphic design. Hill produced the first comprehensive account of Ives’s work in his book Norman Ives: Constructions & Reconstructions in 2020.
Norman Ives: Constructions & Reconstructions is an in-depth chronicle of the spirit and genius of master fine artist and renowned graphic designer Norman Ives. This book introduces unseen treasures showcasing the brilliant variety and vitality of his work. It fully defines Ives’s signature use of letterform fragments. These became the lyrical strokes of his abstract constructions and reconstructions. The book is in itself a work of art.
Ives’s design and art anticipates the percolating type-as-art movement popularized by Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculptures. Type-related art has since become ubiquitous in painting and sculpture, as well as other massive architectural “type works.” Ives’s work fits squarely into this genre having roots in the early 20th-century Modern movement.
Ives was part of Josef Albers’ restructured Yale School of Art which transformed the traditional teaching of graphic design, leading it towards a more demanding and thoughtful profession. Ives was a rare artist who was recognized for his innovative work in design. However, his vision extended well beyond the field of graphic design. His paintings and collages are collected by major museums: The 1967 Whitney Annual exhibition of American painting, the Guggenheim Museum, Yale University Art Gallery and various other institutions.
Ives’ work anticipates the type-as-art movement popularized by Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculptures. Type-related art has since become ubiquitous in painting and sculpture, as well as other massive architectural “type works.” Ives’ work fits squarely into this genre, and has roots in the early 20th-century Modern movement.
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Design / Designer as Entrepreneur program, and writes frequently for EYE and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 190 books on design and visual culture.