Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design by Rick Poynor

Author’s exhibition prepared by the Brno Biennial 2010 Guest Curator

Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design uncovers the presence of an alternative tradition in graphic design.

The Surrealist movement of the 1920s and 1930s focused on literature, painting, photography and the object, and the Surrealists' publishing activities provided only hints of what a fully conceived Surrealist graphic design or typography might look like. Many of the most suggestive early examples came from Czechoslovakia, where Surrealism would become a lasting influence. Subsequently, Surrealist ideas and images had a profound impact on image-makers in every sphere of art and design, and by the 1960s the effects of Surrealism were widely felt in international graphic communication. Uncanny traces this intermittent line of development up to the present. Work showing a strong debt to Surrealism emerges only when a designer appears who is attuned to this way of thinking, dreaming and imagining. Most graphic design conforms to an underlying grid, a sense of structure and professional good taste, which brings order but also imposes limits. The images and designs in Uncanny break free from these bureaucratic restrictions and follow the impulses of a wayward, subjective, dreamlike logic to arrive at their own kind of equilibrium and form. They show that graphic design, too, can sometimes be a place to encounter the strange, the fantastical and the uncanny, to rediscover our lost sense of mystery, and to experience the convulsive beauty and capacity for enchantment and wonder that the Surrealists called "the marvellous". Designers and graphic artists featured in Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design include: Jan Švankmajer, Eva Švankmajerová, Jindřich Štyrský, Karel Teige, Karel Teissig, Josef Vyleťal, Zdeněk Ziegler (Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic); Roman Cieslewicz, Jan Lenica, Franciszek Starowieyski, Bronislaw Zelek (Poland); Laboratoires CCCP, M/M Paris, (France); Grandpeople (Norway); Andrzej Klimowski, Vaughan Oliver, Brothers Quay, Graham Rawle (UK); Elliott Earls, Edward Fella, Jonathon Rosen, Stefan Sagmeister, Brian Schorn (United States).


23/6/2010 - 24/10/2010
Rick Poynor
Entrance fee
to each of three buildings 80 CZK full / 40 CZK reduced 170 CZK family 25 CZK group per person to all three buildings – valid for the duration of the Biennial, but for one single entrance to aech building 160 CZK full / 80 CZK reduced allowing repeated visits 300 CZK full / 150 CZK reduced 500 CZK familly 80 CZK group per person
Pražák Palace
Date of exhibition opening
22/6/2010 19:00