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Library exhibit celebrates Chicago design group

27 Chicago Designer image from design book, Volume 33, 1979
Example of work presented in “Selling Design: 27 Chicago Designers 1936-1991.

“Selling Design: 27 Chicago Designers 1936-1991,” an exhibition celebrating the 80th anniversary of the founding of the 27 Chicago Designers is currently on display in Special Collections and University Archives at the Richard J. Daley Library through March 31, 2017.

The exhibit focuses on the original members of the 27 Chicago Designers. The group was dedicated to promoting the work of its members who were illustrators, typographers, photographers and designers. Important founders include Oswald Cooper and R. Hunter Middleton. More recent members include John Massey and Rick Valicenti. The exhibit charts the development of a collaborative approach to design, the incorporation of modernist and experimental practices into American design culture during the 1930s and 1940s, and the promotion of Chicago as a center for advanced commercial design and advertising.

The UIC library’s Special Collections and University Archives holds materials produced by the 27 Chicago Designers, including design books published by the group, as well as its administrative records. The library holds one of the most significant design collections in Chicago.

The exhibit’s catalog was written by Lara Allison, co-curator and lecturer in art history theory and criticism at the School of the Art Institute. The catalog is designed by Steve Liska, a past president of AIGA Chicago. Co-curator Jack Weiss edited a book showcasing work of the 27 Chicago Designers, available for purchase for $25 at the front desk in Special Collections.

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