Designer Series — Words, Lettering & Poetry
#ARTWISEUP by SAL McINTYRE
MAY 31, 2019 

Interior designers everywhere, when hunting for an extra something that will add a measure of sparkle to a space, seem to be turning again and again to words in many forms. Adding an element of conceptual lyricism and visual dynamism, handwriting and typography offer a glimmer in the creative process, a category of poetry on another plane, even when it is sometimes accomplished only with letterforms.

Joan Miró – Derriere le Miroir, no. 87-88-89, pg 6,7, stone lithograph 1956
Joan Miró – Album 19 Original Lithographs Pages 10,13, stone lithograph 1961

Joan Miró, an original visual poet, supplies a seemingly endless variety of gestural inspiration, achieving a level of sophistication with his playfulness wholly unmatched. Whether with few words or many, whether handwritten or designed in type, his array shows a proficiency with the art of the word, his compositions like songs.

Joan Miró – Poets, Sculptors, Painters, stone lithograph 1960
Joan Miró – Gravure sur Bois 4, woodblock

Georges Braque somehow carries that enigmatic French je ne sais quoi, his flowing lineways both structured and free-spirited simultaneously. These works carry romance and drama, decisive cool and warmth of heart— nothing less for a place that is supposed to be home sweet home.

Georges Braque – La Forme and Dans Deux Choses, offset lithograph 1993
Georges Braque – La Liberte des Mers, stone lithograph 1960

Robert Indiana’s infamous love letters instantly grace any walls with art world class, and especially this black and white version Love from Multiples, an original silkscreen produced by Indiana in 1969 in a limited edition of 1000.

Julian Schnabel’s The 40th New York Film Festival has the edgy New York passion that is appropriate for a film fest poster, this original 2002 mixed media print an offset lithograph image with the words silkscreened on top, and is signed by Schnabel.

Robert Indiana – Love from Multiples, silkscreen 1968
Julian Schnabel – The 40th New York Film Festival, SIGNED mixed media 2002

In classic cubist fashion, Pablo Picasso manages to make free-associative allusions with chopped and rearranged bottle labels, newspapers and such, with only mere parts of words necessary to conjure a daydream of passing clouds, as though floating down a river on a lazy hot afternoon, cigar in hand. Still Life with Bottle of Bass is from 1956 and Papiers Colles from 1966, both Mourlot stone lithographs printed by master engraver Henri Deschamps.

Pablo Picasso – Still Life with Bottle of Bass and Papiers Colles, stone lithographs 1956, 1966
"Adding an element of conceptual lyricism and visual dynamism, handwriting and typography offer a glimmer in the creative process..."
JD Steingruber – Alphabet Architektur, offset lithograph 1997

And with a series of alphabet posters, any appreciator of typography at its most basic essence could find continual joy in experimental letterforms, particularly ones that sing in the voice of a specific favorite artist or theme. JD Steingruber brings us Alphabet Architektur for architecture enthusiasts, and Erté’s fashion and art deco mindset offer unmistakable charm, his Numbers and Alphabet revealing great intricate detail encapsulated within their dancing forms, the latter of which is signed by Erté.

Erté – Numbers (detail), offset lithograph 1981
Erté – Alphabet (detail), SIGNED offset lithograph 1977

And William Wegman’s highly distinctive alphabet reveals a series of letterforms assembled with napping dogs, a delightful silkscreen printed on custom colored wallpaper grounds, numbered in an edition of 1500 in each of 5 colors— an extraordinary work with seriousness and humor, frivolity and design savvy all at once.

William Wegman – A,B,C...Z (detail), silkscreen 1993
Lawrence Weiner – Written in the Sand, offset lithograph 1997
Ben Shahn – I Think Continually, offset lithograph 1965