SVA Subway Art, from New York City to Cyprus

June 14, 2013

This week is the last chance to view SVA subway posters by two masters of the art form on two different continents. From George Tscherny, the creator of the College’s first subway poster and SVA’s current logo, comes the latest installment in the series, quoting French cultural critic Roland Barthes.

Originally published in 1977 as Fragments d’un discours amoureux, as it’s entitled in the original French, Barthes’ work is a collection of complaints and reflections written from the point of view of a solitary lover. The passage quoted by Tscherny reads: “The image is peremptory, it always has the last word; no knowledge can contradict it, ‘arrange’ it, refine it.” Tscherny talked about launching the SVA poster series with SVA Founder Silas H. Rhodes in an interview for the 2012 SVA Annual.

The Department of Design and Multimedia at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus, is hosting “Artphabet,” an exhibition of SVA subway posters and related drawings produced in 2012 by Viktor Koen, a faculty member in the BFA Design and MFA Illustration as Visual Essay departments at SVA.

On working with art director Steven Heller, co-chair of the MFA Design Department at SVA, Koen says, “Designing the posters and finishing 26 illustrations that compile a full alphabet was smooth but intense, since the time between concept approvals and finishes was short. But ‘short’ is something I know well and after sending mechanicals to press, there was nothing left to do but wait at a subway station for my posters to come in. Steve’s idea was simple but brilliant—the messenger is the message. These posters utilized one of the most important advantages illustrated type has to offer, wearing its own message (or better, having the message impeded in its DNA), no matter what it spells.”

Tscherny’s design appears on 400 subway platforms around New York City through the weekend. Koen’s “Artphabet” is on view at the 5th International Conference on Typography and Visual Communication, Cyprus, through June 15.

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