The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

March 15, 2017
by Dan
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Will Eisner Centenary

On the centenary of his birth, The Society of Illustrators in New York is celebrating the life of cartoonist Will Eisner with an exhibition of his work, including original artwork from his graphic novels A Contract with God (1978) and Life on Another Planet (1983), … Continue reading

November 27, 2016
by Dan
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Robert Rauschenberg and the Subversive Language of Junk

With a major Robert Rauschenberg retrospective opening at Tate Modern in December, Alex Needham, writing for The Guardian, visits the late artist’s island home of Captiva, Florida: Rauschenberg started visiting in 1962, before moving to Captiva nine years later, describing it as “the foundation of … Continue reading

May 2, 2016
by Dan
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Willem Sandberg: From Type to Image

Writing for The Guardian, Simon Garfield (Just My Type), visits the first UK retrospective Dutch designer and curator Willem Sandberg: “This is printed on wallpaper, very asymmetric … an amazing thing really,” Fraser Muggeridge, the curator, says as he shows me his collection of … Continue reading

March 9, 2015
by Dan
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Ladybird: Designed for Small, Tiny Hands

As previously mentioned, Ladybird By Design is an exhibition of over 200 of original book illustrations from the late 1950s to early 1970s currently on display at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Sea. In this short film, Lawrence Zeegen, curator of … Continue reading

March 4, 2015
by Dan
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Aldus Manutius and the Roots of the Paperback

The New York Times visits ‘Aldus Manutius: A Legacy More Lasting Than Bronze‘, an exhibition of nearly 150 books from the press Aldus founded in Venice in 1494: Gutenberg may have invented the movable-type printing press, used to create his … Continue reading

March 1, 2015
by Dan
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Paul Rand, Master of Brand Identity

At the New York Times, Ken Johnson reviews Everything is Design: The Work of Paul Rand, a new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York: Considering the punchy, wildly inventive covers he created in the 1950s for books by Henry … Continue reading

January 20, 2015
by Dan
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Ladybird by Design

The Guardian‘s Kathryn Hughes visits Ladybird By Design, an exhibition of over 200 original illustrations from the golden age of Ladybird Books: To enter Ladybird’s world again is to relearn a universe that is both strange yet uncannily familiar. Inevitably the books express the … Continue reading

September 2, 2014
by Dan
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BUONA LA PRIMA! An Exhibition of the Best Italian Book Design

Italian design journalist Stefano Salis has kindly let me know about BUONA LA PRIMA!, an exhibition he has curated for the Artelibro Festival in Bologna later this month. For the exhibition, a committee of 15 professionals in the field of editorial graphics has selected the best … Continue reading

June 24, 2014
by Dan
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Simon Schama on Illustrator Quentin Blake

Simon Schama profiles artist and illustrator Quentin Blake for the FT Weekend Magazine: Blake comes straight out of this 18th-century tradition of rococo mischief, the arabesque ride through the storyline. I ask him if he ever thought of painting full-time? He … Continue reading

June 10, 2014
by Dan
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Shepard Fairey: Obey This Film

Love it or hate it, Shepard Fairey’s bold graphic style with its limited colour-palette and appropriated pop culture imagery, is immediately recognizable and much-imitated. In this interesting short film by Brett Novak,  the Los Angeles-based artist talks openly about his work, influences, and, yes, the Obama ‘Hope’ poster: … Continue reading

February 26, 2014
by Dan
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Jasper Johns: Regrets

At the Financial Times, Julie L. Belcove talks to 83-year-old painter Jasper Johns about ‘Regrets’, a new series of paintings to be exhibited at MOMA next month: Johns began “Regrets” after he came across an old photograph in a 2012 auction catalogue from … Continue reading

February 21, 2014
by Dan
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Tate Shots: William Eggleston

“William Eggleston never takes multiple shots of the same image, just the right picture at just the right moment.” Curator Simon Baker discusses the work of photographer William Eggleston, currently on display at the Tate Modern in London:

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