Art Chantry: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
June 29–September 29, 2003
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center presents an exhibition of posters, album covers, advertisements, and other ephemera designed over the last 25 years by Art Chantry, who has profoundly impacted the history of graphic design in the United States over the last 25 years. Chantry's low-tech, raw, but highly refined design stands in stark contrast to today's slick digital graphics.
Originally from Tacoma, Washington, Chantry moved to Seattle in the late 1970s and became a singular force in the city’s subculture, designing album covers and posters for the underground music and theater industry. He served as art director for The Rocket, Seattle’s free monthly tabloid and a breeding ground for talented contributors such as Matt Groening of The Simpsons and cartoonist Lynda Barry. His design work for independent record labels, commercial clients and political and community events, always on a low budget and with a quick turnaround, remains influential and much imitated today.
His posters juxtapose large type, often fractured or distressed and lifted from vintage sources, with startling pictures appropriated from clip art, exploitation magazines, and hot-rod culture. Recycling this material to produce work that is simultaneously chaotic and clear, Chantry reminds the viewer that much of what we see in advertising and packaging is born of vernacular culture. Translating the ragged physicality and irreverent humor of punk music into visual form, Chantry, whose methods often mirror his punk aesthetics, avoids using the computer as a design tool and is known for being choosy about the corporate clients for whom he is willing to work.
At P.S.1, in his first major New York show, a wide selection of works produced since 1978 presents Chantry at his most mischievous and masterful, with particular regard to material investigation. Included are posters printed on reflective silver Mylar, thin copper foil, black velveteen, old wallpaper samples, vinyl records, and even metal plates riddled with actual bullet holes. These are, after all, Art Chantry’s Greatest Hits.
Art Chantry: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 was curated by Robert Nickas.
This exhibition is sponsored by the American Center Foundation.