15 November 2018

Seventy years of posters from the SVA in New York are on display in Italy for the first time in an exhibition that raises reflections on the relationship between graphic design, politics and social sensitivity and strengthens the link between IED and the US creative scene. 

The first Italian exhibition of posters from the SVA - School of Visual Arts in New York, displayed in the US city’s underground system since the 1950s, opens at IED Milano. 

An exhibition of 40 graphic art posters - a selection of works that have been touring the world since catching the attention of passers-by in the New York underground system year after year since 1947 and provoking their reaction - arrived in Italy for the first time on 1 October. The posters can be seen at IED Milano, in the courtyard of via Sciesa, IED’s opening seat for the exhibition “Underground Images: School of Visual Arts Subway Posters, 1947 to the Present” which then continues its journey at IED Roma and IED Torino and will end its Italian road show at IED Firenze from 19 to 30 November. 

The 40 posters on the show are just examples from the 63 series produced over the years, between 1947 and today, for the prestigious SVA - School of Visual Arts in New York, as a marketing strategy to attract new students. A different way, undoubtedly unconventional, of promoting a school and its talents, of marketing education, which has often touched on themes of great social relevance and sensitivity, also expressing particular positions and opinions. 

Precisely for this reason, and not only to tell a story of graphic art that has lasted for over 70 years, the inauguration of the exhibition at the IED Milano was an opportunity to hold a round table, which also touched on the delicate subject of the relationship between graphics and politics. Moderated by Carlo Branzaglia - scientific coordinator of the IED Milano Postgraduate School - and with the participation of the artist and photographer Silvio Wolf and the designer Riccardo Mannelli, the speakers were Beth Kleber (archivist of SVA Galleries), who gave an introductory lecture dedicated to underground images through a historical perspective, and Francis Di Tommaso, director of SVA Galleries, currently working on an exhibition with a political slant (“Art As Witness: Political Graphics 2016-2018”). Alongside them were speakers of absolute prominence in the international panorama of graphic design and illustration, including satirical ones like Steven Heller and Steve Brodner

It was with names of this calibre - and with those of legendary masters and artists such as Ivan Chermayeff, Milton Glaser and George Tscherny – that SVA landed in New York’s underground galleries from the mid-1950s onwards, with an avant-garde marketing choice aimed at attracting new students. This choice allowed for the gift to New York of works that symbolise bold artistic expression, posters that have become inseparable from the city. 

The bridge between New York and Italy is decisively reinforced by their arrival in the courtyards animated by IED students and their shared vocation for training young people in the creative field. 

Author: Filippo Nardozza