On Friday night, the newly renovated Rosefsky gallery will premiere the world-renowned exhibition, “Underground Images,” produced by the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City.
The exhibition began almost seven decades ago as an SVA campaign meant to attract more students to the school; each year, a new poster is designed with a quote or image that the school finds to be representative of its academic experience. The exhibition has traveled all over the world, with its most recent installation being at Binghamton University’s Department of Art and Design.
Though only 57 posters are shown in this exhibition, it’s easy to see visual trends throughout the years. Many of the earliest posters are more minimalistic, whereas some from the later years seem to hold nostalgia for mid-century artistic trends. Each poster was originally showcased in the New York City subway system to target art school hopefuls, and now, years later, they’re on display for current BU art and design students. This is the second installation that has been opened at the Fine Arts building this semester and is a rare partnership with another academic institution.
“I think you need to see an exhibition like this as a sign of this incredible moment of revitalization in our department,” Tom McDonough, the chair of the art history department, said. “The art department is suddenly open to the world in a way that it hasn’t been in a long time — and this show of posters is just one emblem of this bigger shift.”
The artists who have contributed to the collection have had distinguished careers. A few have even produced some of America’s most well-known logos. They include Bob Gill, who created typographic titles for films, Ivan Chermayeff, the designer behind companies like NBC’s classic corporate logos and Mirko Ilic, a famed designer who had an on-campus show last February.
One of the most notable designers featured is Milton Glaser, the creator of one of New York City’s most famous tourist symbols, the “I [heart] NY” logo — one of his posters reads, “I [heart] NY MORE THAN EVER.” However, Glaser also redesigned the interior structure of supermarket chains that we see in the present day. This is the kind of innovative view that Blazo Kovacevic, host of the exhibition and an assistant professor of the art and design department, believes is important to share with his students.
“[The designers] are trendsetting people, and they are affecting everything we do,” Kovacevic said. “We think they are designing these posters for events or promotions or something, but in truth they are designing our lives and everything we do, pretty much. That’s where design is heading.”
The exhibition will be open tonight from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., with a guided tour at 6 p.m. by Beth Kleber, SVA’s archivist.
The following corrections have been made to this story:
-The exhibition has been installed at Binghamton University’s Department of Art and Design
-Mirko Ilic is a not an alumni of Binghamton University. Ilic had a solo exhibition in the Binghamton University Art Museum last February.