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This is a Poster. It was designed by Michael Bierut and made for (as the client) Architectural League of New York. It is dated 1999 and we acquired it in 2007. Its medium is offset lithograph on white wove paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

While sketching ideas for a poster to announce the annual Beaux Arts Ball at the Architectural League of New York in 1999, graphic designer Michael Bierut realized that the words in that year’s theme, “Light Years,” had five letters each. He thought to overlay them. Nicole Trice, then an intern at Pentagram —an international design firm where Bierut has been a partner since 1990 — mixed Bierut’s simple concept with digital effects. Using Photoshop to create a solution implying light, shadow, and transparency, her collaboration with Bierut produced an image rich with implied temporality. Overlapping the two words in a white font —Interstate designed by Tobias Frere-Jones —created a luminescent effect that seems to flit across the black background the way film titles energetically come to life from old movie projectors. The poster even played a supporting role in Steven Soderbergh’s film Side Effects (2012), which was partially shot in the New York offices of Pentagram.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Light Years.

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

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Its dimensions are

59.7 x 97.8 cm (23 1/2 x 38 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Poster, LIGHT/YEARS; Designed by Michael Bierut (American, b. 1957); USA; offset lithograph on white wove paper; 59.7 x 97.8 cm (23 1/2 x 38 1/2 in.); Gift of Michael Bierut; 2007-12-2

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibitions How Posters Work and Looking Forward/ Looking Back: Recent Acquisitions in 20th- and 21st-Century Design.

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, LIGHT/YEARS |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=1 October 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>