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Poster, Unfinished Modern

This is a Poster. It was designed by Michael Bierut and published by Architectural League of New York and Formica Corporation and firm: Vignelli Designs, Inc.. It is dated 1984 and we acquired it in 1996. Its medium is screenprint on paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

In April of 1984, when postmodernism was becoming an established movement in popular discourse, the Architecture League of New York organized two lectures debating the future of architecture. The two-part series delivered by Arthur Drexler, the director of the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art at the time, disagreed with the widely held sentiment that modernism was dead. He instead saw it as a period “that ...merit[ed] investigation and analysis.” This poster designed by Michael Bierut and Massimo Vignelli announced the talks —“The Devaluation of Architecture” and “Architecture in the Millenium” were the official titles— and uses typography to visualize the breakdown of a traditional, rational modernism. Solid white bars create the letters and progressively become thinner, suggesting what the title of the piece itself alludes to: unfinished modern. Bierut spent the first decade of his career working for the late and legendary designer Massimo Vingnelli before becoming a partner at the prominent graphic design studio Pentagram, a position he continues to hold today.

This object was donated by Michael Bierut. It is credited Gift of Michael Bierut.

  • Poster, No War
  • lithograph on paper.
  • Gift of Steven Heller and Karrie Jacobs.
  • 1993-53-39

Its dimensions are

50.7 x 50.7 cm (19 15/16 x 19 15/16 in.)

It is inscribed

Printed in orange ink, lower center margin: Design: Vignelli & Bierut

Cite this object as

Poster, Unfinished Modern; Designed by Michael Bierut (American, b. 1957); Published by Architectural League of New York (United States), Formica Corporation; Firm: Vignelli Designs, Inc.; USA; screenprint on paper; 50.7 x 50.7 cm (19 15/16 x 19 15/16 in.); Gift of Michael Bierut; 1996-86-1

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Poster, Unfinished Modern |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=3 February 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>