Rick Poynor
Exposure: Marlene Dietrich Billboard by Brassaï

Superhuman mystique of a star

Bonnie Siegler
Naive in Norwalk
Rick Poynor
Exposure: Crime Scene in Paris by Alphonse Bertillon
Rick Poynor
Exposure: Children at Play in the City by Shirley Baker

The freedom of the street

Rick Poynor
Exposure: Woman Mailing a Letter by Clifton R. Adams
Rick Poynor
Exposure: Invisible Man by Gordon Parks
Rick Poynor
Exposure: Kuwait, 1991 by Sophie Ristelhueber
Rick Poynor
Exposure: Newport Baths by Max Dupain
Rick Poynor
Exposure: The Eiffel Tower by Germaine Krull

A Paris icon made abstract

Rick Poynor
Exposure: Salvation Army Barracks by Jack London
Rick Poynor
Exposure: Flypaper and Flies by Jacques-André Boiffard

A cold eye on insect carnage

Rick Poynor
Exposure: Pages from Fabrik by Jak Tuggener
John Foster
Body of Knowledge

A historical overview of anatomical drawing

Rick Poynor
Exposure: Lens bookshop in Sutton by Lloyd Rich

The photographic rediscovery of lost moments

Rick Poynor
Exposure: Butlin’s holiday camp by Edmund Nägele

A sixties vacation in glowing color

Rick Poynor
Exposure: Restaurant de la Réserve by Jean Gilletta

Wonder and yearning by the sea

Rick Poynor
Exposure: Mother and Child by Philip Jones Griffiths

The gendered power relations of war

Rick Poynor
Exposure: The Colossi of Memnon by Francis Bedford
Rick Poynor
Exposure: The Simulator by Dora Maar
Rick Poynor
Exposure: Striporama street scene by Vivian Maier
John Foster
Rabanus Maurus: Poems of the Cross
Adam Harrison Levy
An Interview with Picasso

On a Saturday morning in 1945 a young American soldier named Jerome Seckler climbed three flights of stairs to Pablo Picasso’s studio with the goal of being enlightened.

John Foster
Postcards from the Trenches

Hand-painted postcards from WWI sent home in 1915 and 1916 by a 23-year old German soldier named Otto Schubert.

Adam Harrison Levy
Hiroshima Lost and Found
Rick Poynor
The Mysteries of France:
A Gothic Guidebook
John Bertram
These Events Did Not Occur in Black and White

The history of cover design for This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.

John Foster
Whirlwinds, Snowdrops, and Big Bangs: Vintage Fireworks Labels

Happy 4th of July!

Laura Tarrish
Hunter | Gatherer: Text as Textile

Evidence of fabric embellished with needle and thread has been found as far back as the Cro-Magnon days (30,000 B.C.). The artists featured here, writing with stitchery, challenge our expectations of what is commonly considered a domestic art.

Black, Red + Gold
Rick Poynor
Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Typewriter
Adam Harrison Levy
The Falling Man: An Interview with Henry Singer

The Falling Man is a 90-minute documentary that tells the story of a controversial image. Who took it? Why was it censored? And who was the man in the photograph?

John Foster
The Focused Obsession of Photographer Rob Amberg

Rob Amberg is an award winning a documentary photographer who lives with his wife live on a small farm in the same NC county where he makes his photographs.

John Foster
The Greenville, NC Daily Reflector: 1948 to 1967

One of the best ways to investigate the life and times of a region is to look at the local photo files from the daily newspaper.

History of Visual Communication

If photography hasn't always been a communication medium, what is it? A timeline of the evolution of images as a medium of dialogue.

Alexandra Lange
Premature Demolition

The Folk Art Museum, David Adjaye's market hall, and the first addition to the Morgan Library. If three makes a trend, then premature demolition qualifies.

Selling Shame

Southern California artist Cynthia Petrovic has collected vintage body-shaming advertisements geared toward women.

John Foster
Native American Design

The National Museum of the American Indian has one of the most extensive collections of Native American art and artifacts in the United States.  

Owen Edwards
For Better or Worse, This Design Endures
John Foster
Messenger Boys, Call Girls and a Photographer
Seven Score and 10 Years Ago

The Gettysburg Address in words and pictures.

Gordon Salchow
New Haven, November 22, 1963

A gallery of images taken by Gordon Salchow in New Haven on the day President John F. Kennedy, Jr. was assassinated.

The Psychedelic and Grotesque Proto-GIFs of the 19th Century

Richard Balzer has spent the past five years curating an online collection of his phenakistoscopes, praxinoscopes, and zoetropes — "optic toys".

John Foster
Artful Mourning

The art of mourning in Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries: a look at post-mortem and memorial photographs and memorabilia.

Ricky Jay
Ricky Jay on Collecting
Rob Walker
No. 1 Object

A brief appreciation of a perfectly absurd object: The Number One Hand

What Were We Thinking? The Top 10 Most Dangerous Ads

A list to the top ten most dangerous products advertised to the public as healthy.

From Dance Hall to Design Studio to Dance Hall

Jeremy M. Lange photographs the inaugural dance held in the restored barn that used to be his grandfather's design studio.

John Foster
Folk Funeraria of the South

Accidental Mysteries for August 18th focuses on folk funeraria of the South.

Rob Walker
An Accidental Time Capsule

Snapshots of late-September 2001 signage reveal a tentative American moment.

The Strange Paragraph Symbol

In his book, Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks, software engineer and writer Keith Houston looks into punctuation, symbols and other typographical marks.

John Foster
The Voynich Manuscript

Accidental Mysteries for July 14, 2013 focuses on the rare and undecipherable Voynich manuscript.

John Foster
Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Accidental Mysteries for June 9, 2013 features a photo album from the Alaska Yukon gold rush era.

Book Trade Labels

Book trade labels are advertising artifacts from booksellers, binders, printers, publishers, importers, and distributors of books.

Flickr Collection of the Week: Damaged Goods

“Damaged Goods” is a collection of photographs in which the scratches, stains and patina are critical components in the gestalt of the image.

John Foster
Accidental Mysteries

Accidental Mysteries for February 17, 2013 focuses on the material culture of the Cold War.

Adam Harrison Levy
Dylan Stone: 100 Years
Rick Poynor
On My Screen: Shooting the Past
Jessica Helfand
Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Ten

In April, 1933, Ezra Winter delivers a fifteen-minute live radio talk on the subject of mural painting in relation to modern life, in which he tries desperately to convince himself that he has embraced the modern world.

Rick Poynor
True Stories: A Film about People Like Us

Ambiguous but prescient, David Byrne’s film True Stories is a classic piece of postmodern pop anthropology.

Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: André Breton’s Nadja
John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
Alexandra Lange
Frank Lloyd Wright + Katniss Everdeen

On photographing architecture as sculpture and telling stories via architecture.

Jessica Helfand
Audrey Real Helfand: Designer Manquée
Rick Poynor
The Unspeakable Pleasure of Ruins

“Ruin porn,” a reductive tag that makes any photograph of ruins seem suspect, ignores the cultural history of the ruin.

Rick Poynor
How to Cover an Impossible Book
Rick Poynor
The Infinite Warehouse of Images
An Xiao Mina
90 Years of Chinese Communism: A Multimedia Celebration

How the Chinese Communist Party designed its 90th anniversary commemorations

Rick Poynor
Funerary Portraits: Snapshots in Stone
William Underhill

New women's fashion collection celebrating history of labor

Rick Poynor
Lost Inside the Collector’s Cabinet
Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Stefan Lorant’s Lilliput

Stefan Lorant’s use of photos in pairs could be wry, funny, bizarre, whimsical, satirical and not always kind.

Phil Patton
Sustainable Gold

Phil Patton on the conference “Gold: Substance, Symbol and Significance."

Steven Heller
The Master Race’s Graphic Masterpiece
Jessica Helfand
When Do We Call it Art?

Back in the pre-Banksy days of big cars and even bigger hair, there came a cultural moment noted for its prevalence of large-scaled words and symbols, a comparatively brazen visual trope that flirted with modernity by celebrating overscaled visuals in the interest of commerce.

Rick Poynor
Out of the Studio: Graphic Design History and Visual Studies

Graphic design history’s best chance of development now lies in an expanded conception of the rapidly emerging discipline of visual studies.

Mark Lamster
The Once & Future Whitney Museum

The Whitney: An Architectural Tour.

Mark Lamster
British Incursion

Stirling, Foster, and a new association with the Architectural Review.

Mark Lamster
Spain vs. Holland: The Eighty Years War in 90 Minutes

Spain and Holland will re-enact the Eighty Years War in tomorrow's World Cup final.

Steven Heller
Fascist Seduction

A visit to Mussolini’s Esposizione Universale Roma makes evident that one can be fervently anti-fascist and still admire — indeed savor — aesthetics for their own merits.

Mark Lamster
The Lion of Belgium

In the history of strange maps, this image of Belgium as a lion, printed in 1611 by cartographer Jodicus Hondius of Amsterdam, is surely a classic

Jessica Helfand
Can Graphic Design Make You Cry?

How can you create anything visually compelling if you don't engage at some fundamentally human level — a place where memory and feeling are as valued as form and execution?

Steven Heller
When Satire Was More Than Funny

In 1901, Samuel Schwarz founded a satiric visual weekly, titled L’Assiette au Beurre, expressly poised to attack the functionaries who made their fortunes off the sweat of the citizenry.

Mark Lamster
Red Star

The New York-Amsterdam connection has been much in the news of late, and rightly so, as this is the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's Dutch-sponsored voyage of American discovery.

Mark Lamster
Bowery on the Beach?

Has Leigh Bowery, said to have died more than a decade ago, been hiding out on the Coney Island boardwalk sporting a mullet all along?

Mark Lamster
On Muses

Lee Siegel has a wonderful piece in today's WSJ on the history and decline of the muse in art.

Ken Worpole
Tidal Pools: Photographs by Jason Orton

Tidal pools were once common along the coast of Britain, particularly at seaside holiday resorts. Although many such pools have been destroyed or exist as ruins, others are being revived thanks to the energies of lido enthusiasts. This photo essay captures their beauty, even in decay.

Mark Lamster
Thomas Jefferson: (Henpecked) Jewish President

That Thomas Jefferson had an African-American lover is by now common knowledge. Few, however, realize he had a Jewish grandmother, a fact too often neglected by chauvinistic historians.

Mark Lamster
Defending Alice

The new Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center opens on Sunday — it looks great — and the reviews are starting to flow in. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and fairly dismissive of the original hall, by Pietro Belluschi and Eduardo Catalano.

Rick Poynor
Barney Bubbles: Optics and Semantics

The intricately reflexive nature of his work made Barney Bubbles a true original in his time. No previous British designer had produced graphic communications this playful, personal, dense with allusion, or tricksy. Bubbles was a postmodernist before this new category of graphic design had been identified and defined, and he is as significant an innovator as his American contemporary April Greiman.

William Drenttel
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Working with Amnesty International, Woody Pirtle designed a series of posters that spotlights 12 of the individual articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We celebrate these, today, the 60th anniversary of the UDHR.

Jessica Helfand
Annals of Ephemera, Part III: Aging 2.0

Paper has a finite life span. It yellows and oxidizes and eventually disintegrates. But today, there are a host of specialty materials that protect and preserve paper so that, unlikely as it may seem, ephemeral materials may have found their very own fountain of youth.

Andrew Flamm & Michelle Hauser
Folk Photos

The onset of the digital revolution has made the period for using film finite. Processed prints are becoming obsolete. With the immediate option of discarding an unintended image, a rich library of our unselfconscious selves will no longer be recorded. But it lives here, in these beautiful, poetic and tactile objects.

Steven Heller
Branding Youth in the Totalitarian State

Youth may be wasted on the young, but under the totalitarian state they were not forgotten. For the state to prosper, youth was turned into a sub-brand that both followed and perpetuated the dominant ideology. Graphics played a huge role in making this happen in Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union.

Andrew Blauvelt
Over the Rainbow

June marks the start of a month-long series of LGBT Pride celebrations in cities around the United States and the world, as well as the 30th anniversary of the rainbow flag — the de facto symbol of the LGBT community. While the visual and media focus of the celebrations have been the parades, the most enduring element is perhaps the rainbow.

Jessica Helfand
Reflections on The Ephemeral World, Part One: Ink

An elegy to the makeready — those sheets of paper, re-fed into a press to get the ink balances up to speed, leaving a series of often random, palimpsest-like, multiple impressions on a single surface — in the digital age.

Jessica Helfand
National Scrapbooking Day

"Scrapbooks (like these) remind us that creating an album from saved matter does not necessarily provide an accurate self-portrait..." An essay by Jessica Helfand from her new book on the occasion of National Scrapbooking Day.

Steven Heller
The Sky Is Falling

Where once the sky is falling scenarios would not, as Dr. Flicker said, “happen for billions of years yet,” the doomsday clock is steadily ticking away. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could go back to the days when fiction was not fact.

Steven Heller
The Magic of the Peace Symbol

There was probably no more galvanizing nor polarizing emblem during the 1960s than the peace symbol. And perhaps few symbols have had origins surrounded in as much mystery and controversy

Jessica Helfand
Viewer Discretion Advised

One of the great ironies of contemporary culture is the degree to which pro-forma warnings read as largely invisible. “Viewer Discretion Advised” tells us we’ve been warned...

Steven Heller
Swastika Humor?

Trivializing the swastika is not a crime, but it can be dangerous, particularly since it continues to be used as a weapon of hate. Perhaps this book would have best been titled, “We Have Ways of Making You Wince.”

Jessica Helfand
Gone, Baby, Gone (Things, Part II)

From July 19, 1977 to February 28, 1981, the security staff at New York's Roosevelt Raceway kept a fastidious record of lost property. The result — 152 pages of wayward mittens, misplaced wallets and hundreds of personal items — is as much a record of the social history of a generation as anything I've come across in a long time.

Michael Bierut
Will the Real Ernst Bettler Please Stand Up?

In the late 50s, Swiss designer Ernst Bettler created a series of seemingly harmless posters that brought down a drug company with a Nazi past. It's a great story, but it never happened. Why do we need to believe in Ernst Bettler?

Jessica Helfand
Things, Part I

In an age characterized by elevated environmental awareness — reducing our carbon footprint, enhancing our sustainable output — we remain obsessed with our attachment to the material world.

Jessica Helfand
Type Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry

Designers make choices about the appropriateness of type based on any number of criteria, and "liking it" is indeed one of them. But is that enough?

Michael Bierut
Déjà Vu All Over Again

Jessica Helfand
Science and Design: The Next Wave

Scientists probe and manipulate and channel and divide; they split and fuse and spike and engineer; but most of all, they look. As a designer, to spend any time with scientists is to become at once profoundly aware of our similarities and devastated by that which divides us.

Jessica Helfand
Stan Brakhage: Caught on Tape

For Stan Brakhage, that concentration resulted in extraordinary explorations of many things, including the life cycle of a moth, caught on adhesive strips of tape, and subsequently captured on film where it regained — however briefly — the magnificent illusion of mobility. For designers, faced by budgets and clients and deadlines, the luxury of so much isolation seems a distant, if not an altogether perverse paradigm. But are these intentions really so mutually exclusive?

Alice Twemlow
Design Criticism's Winding Road

To what extent does design criticism inspire a reaction; to whom is criticism addressed and what happens as a result of it being read? This article discusses the way in which an excerpt from a review of a 1955 Buick unexpectedly inspired a painting by one of the world's best-known Pop artists, Richard Hamilton.

Jessica Helfand
Another Myth Brilliantly Debunked

The Folding Paper Box Association of America would influence more than just packaging regulations: a half century before the Poynter Institute would claim authorship for its revolutionary Eye-Trac research, the FPBAA was already tracking viewers' visual responses to packaging...

Steven Heller
Martin Weber in the Third Dimension

You may not have heard of Martin J. Weber, but he was a graphic artist, typographer, art director, and most important, inventor of various photographic techniques that gave two-dimensional surfaces the illusion of being reproduced in three dimensions.

Eric Nevin
Love Letters to Sub-Antarctic Islands

Assigned a page of an atlas for a graduate class in graphic design at the Yale School of Art, Eric Nevin created a log of love letters to the islands of the sub-Antarctic. The writing charmed us and the history adds something to our understanding of this desolate part of the world.

Jessica Helfand
Ad Reinhardt, Graphic Designer

Ad Reinhardt fretted about the meaning of life. He agonized about the purpose of painting. He questioned everyone, critiqued everything, and worked incessantly. In other words, he was a graphic designer.

Steven Heller
The Nazi Triangle

Somewhere in the bowels of the Third Reich's bureaucracy a designer who belonged to the graphics "culture chamber," the representative, official body that sanctioned Nazi designers, produced the basic templates for these camp materials and then turned them over to skilled inmates to produce.

Jessica Helfand
Annals of Ephemera: Town & Country Cookbook

Book cover designers are visual choreographers who frame miniature narratives in order to tease prospective readers into wanting more. Which often means showing less. Or not.

William Drenttel
International Polar Year

In what may turn out to be the biggest international scientific project to date, an army of thousands of scientists will spend the next two years studying the Arctic and Antarctic as part of the International Polar Year, which officially begins this week.

William Drenttel
The Good Citizen's Alphabet

Bertrand Russell had the wisdom to realize that certain words require proper definition to be used correctly in political and social discourse. This alphabet book is offered here as a slide show for our readers.

Michael Bierut
Alan Fletcher: Living by Design

Remembering the late British designer Alan Fletcher, who once said, "I treat clients as raw material to do what I want to do, though I would never tell them that." For him, design was not a profession or a craft, but a life.

Michael Bierut
The Golden Age of American Commercialism

The encroachment of commercialism into everyday life seems like a peculiarly modern phenomenon. Yet around one hundred years ago, America began a romance with salesmanship that today seems almost delirious. A 1922 business directory shows how great crass commercialism used to look.

Jessica Helfand
Annals of Small Town Life: The Logo Stops Here

Working with Florence Knol, Lucille McGinnis convinced her husband, Patrick B. McGinnis, that the New Haven Railroad needed a new logo. Enter Herbert Matter, Swiss-born designer, photographer and Yale professor whose own education was framed by apprenticeships with Cassandre, Leger and Le Corbusier.

William Drenttel
What Ever Happened to, Oregon?

But back in 1999, in its Netflix-like heyday, was hot. And it did something quite remarkable. As a publicity stunt, it bought a town and renamed it. Someplace in Oregon. I wondered what ever happened to, Oregon — the first dot com city in the world?

Rick Perlstein
What is Conservative Culture?

Ask a conservative activist to explain what anchors and unites their fractious movement, and he will point to ideas. They will not mention the extraordinary role the development of a self-contained and self-conscious conservative culture played in transforming the politics of the United States.

Jessica Helfand
A Sequence in Time

01:02:03 04/05/06 This number sequence in time will not occur again until 2106.

Kenneth Krushel
Santa Fe Diarist

But there seem to be equally vigorous efforts to commercialize this distant past in Santa Fe, embracing a design esthetic that advertises itself as the "essence" of what had been thought to be lost. Then, in re-introducing this historical narrative, an efficient assembly line manufactures it into a commercially lucrative design creed.

Jessica Helfand
The Shock Of The Old: Rethinking Nostalgia

Placing Nostalgia: where in the design landscape does it fit? And should it be included in the first place?

William Drenttel
Catastrophic Imaginings: The Design of Disaster

In the end, artificial disasters are designed to elicit and test the responses of participants. In their recording, both allow for a post-mortem evaluation. How did I do? How would I respond? Would I sit patiently in my car a mile up the road? Would I watch from my window, safe in my home?

Michael Bierut
The Man Who Saved Jackson Pollock

Herbert Matter, the designer who stored away a cache of recently-discovered Jackson Pollock paintings, deserves a similar rediscovery.

Lorraine Wild
A Design Annual Captures 1968

The title on the cover of the booklet is "Business as Usual" subtitled "Fourteenth Annual Type Directors Show—Typography Wherever It Exists"... On every spread of the book there are lovely pieces of typography, things most any of us would have been proud to have created, and then an image as brutal as a slap on the face. It was 1968.

Jessica Helfand
Extremely Young and Incredibly Everywhere: The Public Art of Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer's emergent body of work includes film and video, public art installations, theatrical collaboration, expressive typography, and a fairly prolific jumpstart as a writer. Cumulatively, all of his projects — which range from collecting empty pages of famous writers, to constructing parabolas in a public park, to collecting anonymous self-portraits — seem to look for ways to formally address time and space and the human condition.

Michael Bierut
Homage to the Squares

The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum's exhibition Design is not Art provides a useful contrast to an simultaneous exhibition of the work of Josef and Anni Albers, and demonstrates differences between art and design.

Jessica Helfand
Scrapbooking: The New Paste-Up

"Craft-born embellishments," note one supplier of scrapbooking products, "are penetrating an unexpected market: graphic design."

William Drenttel
Moving the Axum Obelisk

In the mid-1990s, I saw an exhibition at the New York Public Library of the greatest illustrated books of the 19th century. One book stood out for me: a massive tome by Henry H. Gorringe, titled Egyptian Obelisks and dated 1882. It's in my design collection because of a dubious memory that it's the first book to document a from-start-to-finish design process. Of course, the process it documents is how one moves an obelisk.

Dmitri Siegel
Mysterious Disappearance of Carol Hersee

The story of Carol Hersee's portrait as Test Card F: since it first appeared in 1967 on BBC2, Carol's face has been on-air for over 70,000 hours.

William Drenttel
In Remembrance of Susan Sontag

In Remembrance of Susan Sontag: a designer's twenty-five years of interaction with the legandary writer.

Tom Vanderbilt
Pleasures and Pathos of Industrial Ruins

An account of a visit to the abandoned site of Bethlehem Steel, Pennsylvania.

Michael Bierut
The Graphic Design Olympics

The event graphics and pictograms created for the Olympics by designers such as Otl Aicher, Lance Wyman and Deborah Sussman are part of a historic tradition that continues to this day.

Jessica Helfand
Ladislav Sutnar: Mechanical Beauty

Jessica Helfand
Take Two Logos and Call Me in the Morning

Michael Bierut
The Idealistic Corporation

American corporations in the mid-twentieth century, such as IBM, Container Corporation, and General Dynamics, worked with designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Herbert Bayer and Erik Nitsche in the conviction that design was not only a tool for business, but an potent instrument for making the world a better place.

William Drenttel
El Lissitzky for Pesach

Jessica Helfand
Annals of Typographic Oddity No. 2: Spaceship Gothic

Michael Bierut
George Kennan and the Cold War Between Form and Content

Diplomat George Kennan's "Long Telegram" of 1946 is a memorable synthesis of form and content, and a demonstration of how powerful form can be.

Michael Bierut
Rob Roy Kelly’s Old, Weird America

The late educator and designer Rob Roy Kelly has had a lasting influence on the profession of graphic design, particularly through his landmark book "American Wood Type."

Jessica Helfand
The Span of Casual Vision

Michael Bierut
The Forgotten Design Legacy of the National Lampoon

The rerelease of the National Lampoon's ersatz and hilarious "1964 C. Estes Kefauver Memorial High School Yearbook" is a reminder that the magazine's art directors, Michael Gross and David Kaestle, anticipated our profession's obsession with vernacular graphic languages by almost fifteen years.

Rick Poynor
Remember Picelj

The English-speaking world knows little about the design history of Communist Europe. Few will have heard of the distinguished Slovenian Ivan Picelj. His prints ask us to remember; they are full of yearning.

Jessica Helfand
On Visual Empathy

In a world besieged by unpredictable atrocities, don't we all feel a little emotionally raw? Two recent articles in suggest that visual empathy may more critical to a productive imagination than we thought.

Rick Poynor
It's a Man's World

Adam Parfrey’s book shows hundreds of men’s magazine covers from the 1950s painted by artists who specialized in depictions of tough guys abusing terrified women. Have we outgrown this kind of thing? Heck no.

Jessica Helfand
The Real Declaration

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