The College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) at UMass Dartmouth is proud to present Norman Ives: Constructions & Reconstructions, in the CVPA Campus Gallery from September 7 through October 23. This major exhibition of Ives's work as artist and designer showcases some early works that will be on display for the first time.
The exhibition contains Ives’s abstract typographic art, innovative posters and brochures, and elegant symbol designs that have inspired generations of designers and artists. Ives’s range of talent became evident in 1967 when his eight-foot square painting, Number 3-L, was selected for the 1967 Whitney Annual Exhibition of American Artists. That same year, the Museum of Modern Art mounted an exhibition titled 3 graphic designers featuring the work of Norman Ives, Massimo Vignelli, and Almir Mavignier.
The exhibition is curated by John T. Hill, author, designer, and a former student and faculty colleague of Ives. Ives and Hill were part of Yale University’s Department of Graphic Design led by Alvin Eisenman, whose orchestration of groundbreaking faculty reshaped the field of commercial art into a more demanding profession, graphic design. Hill produced the first comprehensive account of Ives’s work in his book Norman Ives: Constructions & Reconstructions, in 2020.
"In the history of art, there are striking examples of works rising to a level called timeless: Clovis points, Corinthian helmets, Paul Klee’s drawings, and Josef Albers’s paintings,” noted Hill. “Ives’s work defines a high point in the teaching and practice of graphic design. His symbols communicate with nuance and clarity, ideas reaching a wide audience. His innovations were grace notes for graphic design. This exhibition marks Ives’s passion for letterforms—which became his lyrical strokes, their construction and reconstruction defining his work.”
Ives’s paintings and collages are collected by major museums including the Guggenheim Museum and Yale University Art Gallery. Ives had numerous exhibitions, notably the Chicago Art Institute, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Boston, and the Neuberger Gallery at SUNY Purchase.
Jan Fairbairn, who teaches graphic design and typography at UMass Dartmouth, initiated the exhibition after experiencing Ives’s work while studying Graphic Design at Yale School of Art where she first met John Hill. “Bringing Ives’s work to UMass Dartmouth is like importing Ives’s genius and sensibilities. He is recognized as an important early twentieth-century modernist. My students and everyone on campus will have the opportunity to absorb this artwork up close, and learn from Ives’s sophisticated abstract compositions,” said Fairbairn.
Norman Ives: Constructions & Reconstructions will be shown in the CVPA Campus Gallery at 285 Old Westport Road in Dartmouth, Massachusetts from September 7 through October 23. There will be a reception for the exhibition on September 23 from 5 to 7 p.m. featuring exhibition curator John T. Hill. All attendees must wear a mask when inside any building at UMass Dartmouth.