Yale Bulletin and Calendar

October 7, 2005|Volume 34, Number 5















This picture is of Dan Friedman's apartment. The artist said he liked "creating unexpected connections between elements which may otherwise be considered incompatible."

Noted graphic designer Dan Friedman
is subject of retrospective

The work and teachings of groundbreaking graphic designer and former Yale faculty member Dan Friedman (1945-1995) will be commemorated with a retrospective exhibit at two campus venues.

"Dan Friedman: Radical Modernist" will open on Tuesday, Oct. 11, in the Green Hall Gallery at the School of Art, 1156 Chapel St., and on Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Jonathan Edwards College (JE) Master's House, 70 High St.

Both venues will feature selections of Friedman's works as well as objects from and large-scale images of the artist's apartment (with 90 objects and images at the School of Art and 38 at JE). The show will continue at both venues through Friday, Nov. 4.

Friedman worked as a graphic designer at several firms, including Anspach and Pentagram Design, where his clients included such corporations as Citibank. He influenced the "New Wave" in U.S. graphic design by introducing a new design for typography while teaching at Yale, where he held posts at the School of Art and Yale College 1970-1973 and 1991-1992. He also taught at the State University of New York at Purchase and Cooper Union School of Art. The artist's work appears in New York's Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art and Cooper-Hewitt in New York, among others.

Friedman said of his work: "What I propose here is a radical modernism -- a reconsideration of how modernism can embrace its heritage along with the new reality of our cultural pastiche, while acknowledging the importance of a more humanistic purpose."

The artist also said he enjoyed "creating unexpected connections between elements which may otherwise be considered incompatible. It makes no difference if the elements are images on a printed page or objects in a room."

The idea of holding a Friedman exhibit on campus originated with two of his colleagues at Yale: Sheila de Bretteville, professor and director of graduate studies in graphic design at the School of Art, and Christopher Pullman, vice president for design at WGBH and senior critic in graphic design at the School of Art.

In an essay titled "Dan's Yale, Yale's Dan" in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, de Bretteville writes: "When given the opportunity to gather and exhibit Dan Friedman's work, Yale University's School of Art did not hesitate. Immediately we grasped the idea of a retrospective exhibition of Dan's work as a timely, vivid and useful model for considering our shared history and aesthetic values, a means of highlighting the ways we are currently crossing boundaries between arts disciplines, and an opportunity to review the very place of the arts in society."

Early in his career, Friedman moved away from "the American model of modernism in graphic design practice and pedagogy, which tended to turn away from the social and political problems of the time, and to be in service to the corporate sector," de Bretteville writes. "His work became more individualized, an extension of his increasingly developed aesthetic and social ideas, and an integral part of his life at home, in the city, and in the world ... ."

"This story of Dan's own transformation alongside that of Yale's -- from an ideology of clarity and an aesthetics of cool elegance to one that is increasingly more individualized, one that responds with a sense of agency to the world around us -- can be seen as a model of propitious continuity, an open-ended process of continual development," she adds. "Nowhere is this more evident than in Dan's own apartment, installed as layered evocations in the Yale School of Art gallery and at the Jonathan Edwards College Master's House. These two installations invoke Dan the artist, alive and at work; they remind us through the breadth, depth, hope and energy in his legacy of how much we owe him for showing us a way to continue to begin again, and again."

Several special events have been scheduled in conjunction with "Dan Friedman: Radical Modernism." Pullman and Michael Greenblatt, a student at the School of Art who helped organize the show, will take part in a JE master's tea titled "Dan Friedman: Private and Public" at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13. This will be followed by an opening reception for the exhibition.

Pullman will also present "A Personal Reflection of a Life in Design" at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14, in the lecture hall of the Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel St.

Jonathan D. Katz, executive coordinator of the Larry Kramer Initiative for Gay and Lesbian Studies at Yale, will speak on "The Sexuality of Design: Friedman's Gay Postmodernism" at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20, in JE.

Finally, de Bretteville and Michael Rock, partner in the design firm 2x4 and adjunct professor of design at the School of Art, will discusss "Dan Friedman Now: Practice and Agency" at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27, in JE.

All the events are free and open to the public.

"Dan Friedman: Radical Modernist" is open for exhibition viewing at the School of Art 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Sunday. The JE venue is open most Thursdays 4-6 p.m. or by appointment, (203) 432-0356.


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