Exhibition Archive

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    As mainstream publishers go, few enjoy a design standing as respected as Penguin, and that is largely down to David Pearson. His brilliance will be given due prominence at a show at London’s Kemistry Gallery next month with his bold and communicative book jacket design for Penguin taking centre stage, alongside work for Éditions Zulma and a few other clients.

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    It’s laudable that designers are working on worthy projects that will have a practical impact on building a better future, but we’re big believers that creatives should be engaged in making tomorrow a bit more fun too. Luckily for us, there are institutions like the Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL).

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    In 2011 San Franciscan artist Tauba Auerbach held a solo show at the Bergen Kunsthall in Norway that cemented her reputation as a fine artist with heavyweight conceptual clout as well as being a maker of extraordinarily beautiful objects. Tetrachromat suggested that there was a fourth colour spectrum only perceptible to women and Tauba created a selection of objects that experimented with this theory – including vast books printed with rainbow gradients that are still some of the most beautiful objects I’ve ever laid eyes on.

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    Okay so before we begin let’s set the story straight here and lay down the fact that I know very little about fashion. That’s kind of the reason why I was so curious about going along to the Barbican to see the preview of their latest show that everyone is talking about: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.

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    Hey Studio always impress us with their consistently superb work. Their evolution over the past few years from die-hard champions of Swiss Modernism to creators of truly versatile work has delighted us, and it’s wonderful to see them grow into their creative potential. That said, we still really love their modernist posters, which is good for us as they’re about to go on display at Mad Shop in Barcelona from 11 April until 5 June 2014. There you’ll be able to see a huge variety of Hey’s poster projects, from their dynamic work for Film Commission Chile to recent pieces for ESPN Barcelona. Nice!

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    “There are three types of artist,” Thierry Noir tells me, “difficult, very difficult and impossible.” Which one is he? “I do not want to know.” The unassuming French artist is in London for the opening of his first ever solo show at the Howard Griffin Gallery in Shoreditch, and has been working flat out for two weeks to get everything finished. As well as 15 large canvases which are going on display (alongside rarely seen photographs and films), Thierry has been busy painting various walls around east London and likes the combination of gallery and al fresco work; street painting he says gives him “a different type of energy.” It’s fair to say that Thierry Noir has some experience in this.

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    We’ve all got a pile of forgotten junk hidden away somewhere in the depths of our homes – that’s what the empty space is for, right? Well, my fellow hoarders, it seems the Bank of England has the same problem, but where we have attics and locked cupboards they have a museum, so it’s all been put on display in an exhibition called Curiosities from the Vaults. Luckily for us, theirs isn’t so much junk as it is rare artefacts steeped in history, and it’s all been free to see since Monday.

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    The Grand Palais, one of Paris’ largest and most spectacular art galleries, is paying tribute to artist and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in a huge exhibition of his work. Famous for his incredibly stylised black and white photographs, Robert rose to fame in the late 60s and early 70s for his images of New York’s underground bondage and sadomasochism scenes, introducing a form of image-making which embraced homoeroticism in a way that very few, if any, photographers had managed to do before him. The exhibition will show 200 of these controversial and ground-breaking images, making it the most complete show of his work to date.

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    The main poster for this year’s Designs of the Year show at London’s Design Museum features a stark white slogan on a sheer black background which reads: “Someday the other museums will be showing this stuff.” It sums up perfectly what this programme aims to do: champion and showcase the best contemporary design and put a marker down for that which will come to define the coming decades. And this year’s extravaganza succeeds in doing that in spectacular fashion.

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    Since 2012 we’ve posted about Colophon Foundry, directly or indirectly, eight times. We use their Aperçu font on the It’s Nice That website, and on most of our other platforms. When they do new stuff, we pay attention. In short, we love these guys, for their unflinching devotion to their output and the sheer quality of their work – they’re a clever bunch of chaps. And yet Colophon is a mere five years old, making them positively youthful in business terms. To celebrate reaching this modest age they’re holding a show at KK Outlet next month, creating an exhibition of 26 fictional possibilities for 26 existing typefaces, imagining the potential of each without the constraints of commercial realities. We’re excited to see how it all turns out!

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    Artists Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel were subverting traditional ideas of how art could function in a public space long before Banksy’s time. The pair began their groundbreaking Billboards project in 1973, creating huge open-ended designs in their workshop under the name Clatworthy Colourvues, and pasting them up on advertising billboards around the San Francisco area. From a cartoon image of a hurricane captioned “Ooh la la!” in reference to French nuclear testing in the Pacific, to sinister alphabet fridge magnets spelling out “Whose news abuses you?” the images they created added an absurd diversion to the California landscape, and revolutionised the role of art in the public environment.

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    As a successful artist, it’s almost your duty to take younger, fresher creative minds under your wing and lead them in the right direction to artistic stardom. Such is the nature of this new exhibition in London’s Hoxton Gallery, which looks to pair some of the country’s brightest fine art talents with some of its most legendary.

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    All too often society’s view of an entire nation is shaped by subjective and marginalised photographs circulated by the media, as is very much the case for Jerusalem, of which images of conflict and religious context seem to displace everything else. Travelling around Israel, Palestine, the West Bank and Jordan, one group of interdisciplinary artists each captured different fragments of their life in the region on camera, focusing on daily rituals, the natural landscape and the people surrounding them rather than the scenes of battle favoured by newspapers. The result is a beautiful group of refreshing images taken not for the use of the media but for pleasure, showing the oddities and little sights otherwise neglected.

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    Any exhibition that has even a trace of Hockney’s work in it is enough for most of us at It’s Nice That to be running down there in an instant, so hearing that London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery was opening a show of Hockney’s printed work was almost too exciting for our little brains to bear.

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    Have you ever cried yourself to sleep at night just wishing there was a website that has a curated selection of London’s best art and design shows in once place? Well, dry those eyes and cry no more culture-lover, we’ve got a new site that answers all your prayers and more. This at There is our specially curated pick of the shows in London that we think you’d be mad to miss, with a handy countdown so you can see which ones you’ve got to skedaddle to quickest. Simple. To keep up-to-date on what’s going on, sign up to the weekly newsletter or follow This at There over on Twitter.

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    We’ve been following Carrie Strine on Instagram for a good few months now, watching her large-scale textile projects evolve and develop over time. She’s a New York-based quilter who specialises in doing everything by hand, which means she has the patience of a saint. She’s also got an exceptional eye for colour and composition, meaning her quilts are nothing like the tawdry swathes of fabric your grandma used to pile up on her bed – these are vibrant, exciting pieces of bold geometric pattern and minute hand-detailing that it’s actually possible to lust after.

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    If there’s one thing that Parisian designers Ill-Studio know better than anything else it’s 90s pop culture. The pair seem to base their entire practice around FILA leisurewear, contemporary cartoons, any number of pairs of AirMax and that horrendous DVD logo that haunted us through the early years of films on disc.

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    Someone farted all the way through the speech given by the Hayward’s curator about the opening of Martin Creed’s What’s the Point of It? to a crowd of journalists. It took a while for everyone to realise that these fart noises were coming from behind us, and it was actually an audio element in Creed’s show.

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    Bit late on the uptake on this one, but oh well, there’s always enough time in the day for legendary Cuban propaganda posters, right? The OSPAAAL Posters Show at London’s Kemistry gallery has unfortunately just closed its doors to the public. If you didn’t make it, have no fear! Michael Tyler’s collection of Cuban posters are here on the World Wide Web for you to browse as much as you wish.

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    Back in the 90s a whole bunch of young people decided it was way more fun to live in old double-decker buses and party non-stop rather than getting an office job and starting a family. Tom Hunter, Professor in Photography Research at the London College of Communication, was one of those travellers and has decided to host an exhibition of photos taken during that time.

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    In 1954, Tom Eckersley set up the UK’s first undergraduate graphic design course at what was then the London College of Printing (LCP). Now the London College of Communication (the current incarnation of the LCP) is paying tribute to the man who pioneered graphic design’s new identity, as differentiated from commercial art.

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    It’s not always easy to stage great graphic design exhibitions but Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum does it better than most. Its current show is a celebration of pioneering designer, art director and typographer Juriaan Schrofer, whose relentless experimentation pushed the boundaries of visual communication in dynamic and exciting directions. Alongside a collection of his work, Dutch studio LUST have created an interactive installation which pulls in relevant news stories related to specific locations to create a kind of information portrait.

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    People are always finding amazing things in attics; so much so that I always think I should spend a weekend rooting through my loft, but then I remember I live in a flat and don’t have an attic and get sad.

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    French designer and typographer Benoît Bodhuin has started to take himself a little more seriously of late. The experimental type designer used to be content to just release new fonts into the world as and when he saw fit, but now all that’s had to change and he’s marking this shift with a new show. His latest exhibition La typo, c’est sérieux!, or Typography, this is serious! puts Benoît’s thoughts on his process at the very forefront of the show, using his existing creations in a multitude of posters, prints and specimen samples that show the impressive extent of his abilities. What’s more he’s changed his URL from the frivolous www.benbenworld.com to the infinitely more austere www.bb-bureau.fr. I guess he just decided it was time to grow up!

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    Where can you find a giant bronze thumb, a chair made out of a female mannequin and a statue of a cowboy all in the same London location? That’s right, The Barbican! And it’s not a collection of weird, semi-fetishistic memorabilia, but an excellent exhibition of some of the most notable works to mark Pop Art’s takeover of the design scene in the latter half of the 20th Century.

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    Why is it that you can’t remember what you had for lunch yesterday but you can remember the TV graphics and theme tunes that you saw when you were about five? It takes years to actually realise that the reason those images that stuck in your mind and refused to leave was because of their catchy, skilful design by talented folk back in the day. Those designers don’t tend to be lauded in the public eye too much, but this exhibition at London’s Kemistry Gallery takes one particularly special man and puts him on the pedestal he deserves.

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    To Seoul everyone, and don’t spare the horses! The artist Do Ho Suh has unveiled his biggest work ever at the city’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and it’s absolutely astonishing. Continuing his explorations of domestic space, the artist has built two exact scale replicas of both his childhood home and his first apartment in the USA. Created using jade silk, the ethereal structures evoke ideas of the relationship between memory and place, and the ways in which physical structures become part f our theoretical personal narratives.

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    What we’d give to sip on the youth elixir that Ryan McGinley quite clearly has an infinite supply of in his bag. You can imagine him in a van packed with fun youths, chatting excitedly and joking around, on their way to a meadow to spend a few days camping and photographing, somersaulting out of barns and running naked through tall grass. The words ‘one trick pony’ have been bandied about surrounding McGinley’s work of late, but I think this is merely overlooking the fact that he’s found his niche and he’s sticking to it. Who else can capture frivolity, raw beauty and the natural electricity that runs through life with the same celebratory joy as Ryan? No one, I don’t think.

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    If the overarching relationship between art and design is sometimes a complex one, the relationship between particular art movements and design can be equally problematic. How do designers respond to cultural movements rooted in a certain time and place? How are these movements affected when designers co-opt its visual language for their own ends? At what point do these designs become part of the art movement?

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    Our pal Kristian Hammerstad of Printed Pages Autumn 2013 cover fame (also of killer zombie, mutant ape-man illustration fame prior to the former lofty accolade) has just had himself a solo show in his native Oslo. Positronics features original drawings and hand-pulled screen prints by the Norwegian master-illustrator, predominantly focussing on his obsession with all things robotic. There’s an automaton considering his human skeleton in the mirror, a sandwich of entwined wires and glasses full of oil and bolts – the perfect refreshment for Kristian’s mechanical friends. All are pieces produced in his spare time, the result of experiments carried out between client briefs, and demonstrate where Kristian’s true interests lie; within the cold metal torso of an existentially troubled droid.

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    A report out this week warns that London is in danger of not making the most of its post Olympic legacy, which all helps make that summer of smiles and success seem like a surreal dream. Leaving aside the sporting impact, it’s probably too early to say what the cultural or design effects will be of that very distinctive visual vernacular that surrounded the Games. For other cities though that assessment is very possible, in particular one with nearly 30 years’ hindsight as is the case with Los Angeles.

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    A journalist at the press conference for the hotly-anticipated Hello My Name is Paul Smith at the Design Museum made a very interesting point. Paul Smith makes stripy socks and nice suits, like many other designers, what is it about his stripy socks that people buy into? Simple answer: it’s him. It’s his fun, his energy, his silly faces, his flowery shirts, his bandy legs and his unabashed cheerfulness that makes us want to buy his clothes! This is also precisely why this exhibition of his career to date has to be one of the most enjoyable in the history of shows, it’s 100% infused with happiness and celebration. From the walls covered in framed miscellany taken from Paul’s own staircase (only a tiny fraction of the complete archive), to the recreation of his infamous stuff-filled office, this show had journalists and photographers go all squishy and giddy with joy whilst ambling around.

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    When I think of football in the 80s I think of the smell of freshly mowed turf, steaming styrofoam cups and old sheepskin coats with packets of Pall Mall tucked inside. Football and smoking kind of go together in a weird way, a similar vibe you really only get when you step into a classic British pub and get that first whiff of stale booze slap bang in your face. Leo Fitzmaurice has picked up on that, and has taken the really quite beautifully designed fag packets of yore and turned them into instantly recognisable football kits. It’s a simple, effective comment on the specific addiction many of us have to sport, and the infinitive nature of competition year after year.

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    Signs that you’ve made it: 1. You have a book of your work out. 2. The text for said book is written by Creative Review editor Patrick Burgoyne. 3. You have an accompanying exhibition of your work at super-cool east London gallery KK Outlet. 4. The press release for said show includes a quote from the people’s philosopher Alain de Botton.

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    Bookbinding is one of those skills I wish I possessed (see also basic butchery and intermediate chandlery). A new show at London’s Aram Gallery which opens next week shines a light on this world, but does so by combining the past and the present to terrific effect. Beautiful Readable Objects showcases nine books bound by members of the Tomorrow’s Past collective, which is dedicated to making contemporary conservation bindings for damaged antiquarian books. Through both sensitive design and tremendous technique, these bibliophiles preserve the books for future generations while staying true to their former glories.

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    Back in August we showed you Erik Brandt’s garage-wall typography project Ficciones Typografika and had a little look at Feixen’s contribution to it. But we thought it was probably about time for an update seeing as the man’s working flat out to get a new set of posters up each week. This time the updates come in the form of some of Erik’s own work; posters with a political bent that deal with some particularly topical issues and hammer home the simple power of a slogan rendered with typographic aggression. Plus, those colour palettes: Mmmmmmm.

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    Here’s an exhibition we wish we were over the Atlantic for. Pulling in bits and pieces from their very own collection, the Museum of Modern Art has just opened a brand new show celebrating women in contemporary design from the years 1890 all the way up until 1990. The exhibition gives women in modern design the nod they deserve by crediting them not only as muses and wives, but as designers, performers and educators, listing creatives from Charlotte Perriand and Ray Eames to Eileen Gray and Denise Scott Brown on the bill.

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    Oh to be in Ryan McGinley’s studio, listening to Pavement and rolling around naked on enormous sheets of emerald-coloured paper while he shoots his youth-elixir camera and winks at you through the viewfinder…We can only dream. Any lucky person who’s living in San Francisco should pop in to Ratio 3 Gallery this week to catch the tail-end of McGinley’s show Yearbook. I don’t know who curated this show, but whoever did deserves a medal for hanging the photos with such apt teenage bedroom wild abandon.

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    If we told you that Siggi Eggertsson had done some new, spectacular work, you probably wouldn’t find it hard to believe. But this time the boy’s really cracked it creating more of his mind-bending illustration, this time at a a scale we can scarcely comprehend. His latest show Skvís at the Spark Design Space, Reykjavik plasters every inch of floor, wall and ceiling in a pattern of his own creation.

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    The 1960s was a decade when all kinds of crazy stuff slipped into the mainstream, but many artists who championed the use of hallucinogenic drugs as “an artistic tool” were quickly popped into the file named “psychedelic” and then promptly forgotten about. As a result, psychedelic art has largely fallen by the wayside in favour of more conventional makers and thinkers (presumably ones who weren’t high as a kite or seeing unicorns and wizards when they took to their easels) and unfairly shunned from art for nigh on half a century now.