Exhibit shows art of design legend


Alex Bazeley

The work of Paul Rand in “Everything is design.”

Rebecca Jane Brown, Contributing Writer

The Museum of the City of New York is currently showcasing Paul Rand’s works under the title “Everything is Design: The Work of Paul Rand,” a name that not only describes his art, but also the artist’s life philosophy. An art director, illustrator and graphic designer, Rand was a legendary designer between the 1930s to 1990s, when he reinvented branding by innovating the brand designs and logos of famous corporate brands such as UPS and IBM.

Donald Albrecht, the Museum of the City of New York’s curator of architecture and design, organized the exhibition. One of the most successful aspects of the exhibition is its arrangement, presented in five chronological sections, making it easy to track Rand’s progress, development and artistic trends throughout his career. Viewers immediately feel absorbed in the twists and turns of Rand’s professional and personal story. The room is also artfully arranged so that one has a lot of space when browsing the exhibition.

The objects featured are varied, providing insight into Rand’s extensive career. For instance, the exhibit showcases vintage magazines, children’s books, sketches, photography and his other professional works. All of the artwork and objects featured have dates on them, so that viewers can trace Rand’s interests, creative patterns and growth from his youth until later in his career. In doing so, the exhibition creates a biological environment and feel.

Along with being able to see Rand’s creative process, viewers can see Rand’s influences, artistic taste and sense of humor, making “Everything is Design” an engaging experience. Rand adds occasional hands and hats on the magazines he originally collected, which is reminiscent of childhood doodles.

The show is not only artistic, but also historical and informative. Rand is a complex artist — it is true that he chose to work for corporate America, but this exhibition shows the intellectual and artistic side of him. In the ’50s, Rand created crazy and interesting covers for books by Albert Camus, Henry James and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Overall, it is interesting to see how Rand’s ideas have played out after his legacy in the modern capitalist world. The exhibition enlightens viewers because it not only shows the humble beginnings of modern design, but also bridges the corporate world to art.

Along with hosting the “Everything is Design” exhibit, the Museum of the City of New York is holding several programs pertaining to learning about Rand’s influence in the art of graphic design. These programs include “Branding: Why Good Design is Good Business,” “You Can Tell a Book by its Cover” and “Design as Discipline: From the Drafting Table to the Academy.”

“Everything is Design: The Work of Paul Rand” is on display at the Museum of the City of New York until July 19.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 2 print edition. Email Rebecca Jane Brown at [email protected]