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Graphic design has a profound but sometimes unconscious impact on the way we view the world. Join us as we explore Highlights in the History of Graphic Design. This five-week course taught by Bard Graduate Center’s world-renowned faculty and alumni is open to everyone; no pre-existing knowledge of art or design is required. Engage your senses with hands-on activities that reveal the fascinating history of design and media production.

In order to be more accessible to busy New Yorkers we have decided to make individual classes available for registration.

Classes begin April 1
Mondays 7–9 pm
38 West 86th Street, Classroom 538

Week 1-5: $450 Adults; $375 Students and Educators; $350 Members
Individual classes: $100 Adults; $85 Students and Educators; $75 Members Space is limited.

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Week 1 (April 1)
The Wiener Werkstätte
With Michelle Jackson-Beckett, Bard Graduate Center Doctoral Candidate and Professor of Industrial Design at Parsons School of Design.

Beginning with the concepts of reform and secession in the late 19th-century in Austria-Hungary, this class will focus on the inventive modernisms at play in the graphic work of the Wiener Werkstätte (Viennese Workshops), 1903–1932, founded on the ideologies of the British Arts and Crafts movement. Topics will include late 19th-century precursors to the firm and the early work of Wiener Werkstätte co-founder Koloman Moser, the influence of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald on the group, as well as the significant rise of commercial graphics in Vienna at large, including the prolific career of Julius Klinger. Special focus will be placed on the many women who designed for the Wiener Werkstätte in the 1920s, including the bold and innovative graphic works of Maria Likarz-Strauss and Mathilde Flögl, among others. 

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Week 2 (April 8)
The Bauhaus
With Michelle Jackson-Beckett, Bard Graduate Center Doctoral Candidate and Professor of Industrial Design at Parsons School of Design.

Building from Week 1, this session will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. Enjoy a lively discussion about the famed school of modern architecture and design, including its founding pedagogy, how its philosophies changed with its location as it moved from Weimar to Dessau, and the influence of abstraction and modern communication theories related to typography. Investigate the graphic work of significant figures such as László Moholy-Nagy, Joost Schmidt, and Herbert Bayer, as well as Jan Tschichold’s relationship to the Bauhaus and its exhibitions.

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Week 3 (April 15)
American Corporations and Countercultures: Postwar Graphic Design
With Colin Fanning, Doctoral candidate at Bard Graduate Center and Project Assistant Curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

This session will explore the contradictions and complexities of American and European graphic design in the decades after World War II. While highly professionalized agencies like Unimark were producing sleek identities for institutions and consumer brands—building upon the visual language of modernism to signal a spirit of postwar corporate optimism—more informal, DIY graphics took root in a range of countercultural settings, expanding the vocabulary and aims of the design field. Examining these overlapping histories, this class will reveal the underlying cultural tensions of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s reflected in the graphic design of the era.

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Week 4 (April 22)
Politics and Culture in Latin American Graphic Design
With Christina De León, Doctoral Candidate at Bard Graduate Center and Associate Curator of U.S. Latino Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

This class will focus on the dynamic history of graphic design in Latin America in the 20th century. Special attention will be given to creative centers such as Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, and Argentina.

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Week 5 (April 29)
Computer as Tool, Computer as Medium: Design After 1980
With Juliette Cezzar, Assistant Professor of Communication Design at The New School’s Parsons School of Design.

This session will discuss how new software expanded the range of graphic expression, postmodern thought changed design’s purpose, and the internet fundamentally changed the field itself.


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On View in the Gallery
Jan Tschichold and the New Typography: Graphic Design Between the World Wars
February 14 – July 7, 2019 Learn More Button
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The Story Box: Franz Boas, George Hunt and the Making of Anthropology
February 14 – July 7, 2019 Learn More Button
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