Franco Grignani: Art as Design 1950-1990

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art

5 July – 10 September 2017

£3.25 with National Art Pass (standard entry £6.50)

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The exhibition celebrates the work of the Italian architect, graphic designer and artist.

Franco Grignani, Dissociation from the Field, 1970

Franco Grignani studied architecture but soon became absorbed in experiments with photography and visual phenomena. He played a leading role in the Futurist and Constructivist movements and had a powerful influence over the world of graphic design. His experimental approach anticipated ideas from Kinetic and Op Art by several years.

Over the course of his multidisciplinary career, Grignani created more than 14,000 works. They ranged from 16 book covers for a Penguin sci-fi mini-series to a new corporate identity for Arti Grafiche Alfieri & Lacroix in Milan, which included designs for 150 posters.

But he is best known for black and white graphics, particularly the swirling Woolmark logo, which was voted 'Best Logo of all Time' by Creative Review Magazine in 2011. The graphic is now applied to more than five billion products worldwide, and the company credited it with helping to 'reinvent the global perception of wool as a natural, contemporary and glamorous fibre'.

Grignani also worked as art director at Bellezza d'Italia and then at Pubblicita in Italia, where he remained for 26 years. He had more than 49 solo exhibitions during his lifetime, as well as contributing work to other group shows. He won a Palma d’Oro for advertising, a gold medal at the Milan Triennale, and awards at the Warsaw Poster and Venice Biennales.

Comprising around 50 pieces from the Grignani family collection, this exhibition celebrates the work of an artistic pioneer whose achievements have tended to be overshadowed in the UK.

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