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Zak Kyes Working With...
JUN 14, 2012 - SEP 22, 2012

Zak Kyes Working With…
Can Altay, Charles Arsène-Henry, Shumon Basar, Richard Birkett, Andrew Blauvelt, Edward Bottoms, Wayne Daly, Jesko Fezer, Joseph Grigely, Nikolaus Hirsch, Maria Lind, Markus Miessen, Michel Müller, Radim Peško, Barbara Steiner

The Graham Foundation is pleased to present the first solo exhibition in the United States by the Swiss-American graphic designer Zak Kyes. The exhibition brings together a range of works by Kyes, as well as works by a host of collaborators that includes architects, artists, writers, curators, editors, and graphic designers, presenting contemporary graphic design as a practice that mediates, and is mediated by, its allied disciplines.

Kyes, who lives and works in London, is known for his critical approach to graphic design, which encompasses publishing, editing, and site-specific projects for and in collaboration with cultural institutions. In 2005, Kyes founded the design studio Zak Group, and, in 2006, he became Art Director of the Architectural Association (AA), London. Under the auspices of the AA, he organized the seminal touring exhibition Forms of Inquiry: The Architecture of Critical Graphic Design, and later cofounded Bedford Press, an imprint that seeks to develop new models for contemporary publishing. By broadening the highly specialized role of the designer, Kyes challenges and further develops today’s graphic design practice.

While this work constitutes the exhibition’s point of departure, its focus is on the conceptual, visual, and economic intersections that link Kyes with his collaborators, revealing and further unfolding the designer’s multivalent practice. These intersections vary in form from idealistic to pragmatic, urgent and time-sensitive to abiding and long-lasting. Rather than presenting a chronological overview of Kyes’s work, the exhibition highlights the designer’s relations with partners, clients, and institutions, and the creative potential of these collaborations to evolve traditional understandings of graphic design, art, and architecture.


An expanded exhibition catalogue published by Sternberg press accompanies the exhibition and includes contributions by Richard Birkett, Andrew Blauvelt, Edward Bottoms, Maria Lind and Barbara Steiner, among others. (June 2012, 11 x 17.8 cm, 266 pages, 5 b/w and 43 color ill., softcover, ISBN 978-1-934105-92-4)


The audio guide was conceived by Charles Arsène-Henry and Shumon Basar with narration by Tamara Barnett-Herrin and Sophie C. Bernhard. To access the audio guide, please dial (312) 348-7834 from a touch tone phone. Enter numbers 1-5 to access the five part audio tour. Press * to advance.


Zak Kyes Working With… was curated with Barbara Steiner, and organized on the occasion of Kyes receiving the INFORM Award, an annual accolade presented to graphic designers who develop a practice within the context of applied and contemporary art. The show opened at the Museum for Contemporary Art Leipzig and traveled to the Architectural Association, London. The Chicago presentation is organized by Sarah Herda, Graham Foundation Director, with Ellen Hartwell Alderman, Program Coordinator.


This project is supported by the Swiss Council Pro Helvetia, Cassochrome, the Architectural Association, and a 2011 grant from the Graham Foundation.


Radim Peško, “Interfinity Mark, Punctuation Mark” 2010; Joseph Grigely, The Information Economy, Zak Kyes Working With... Exhibition Poster, 2011.