If you walked down the High Line in the past month or two, chances are your eyes were caught by a garish grid of painted posters that slapped heavy black text on top of bright gradients of color. The project was Allen Ruppersberg’s billboard “You & Me,” and the posters were in the signature style of Los Angeles’s Colby Poster Printing Co, which, after serving artists like Ed Ruscha and Ruppersberg for decades, recently shut down on December 31, 2012.
The Los Angeles–based organization ForYourArt is memorializing the poster company with an exhibition called In the Good Name of the Company, displaying a slew of examples from the printer’s iconic history. It’s a unique cultural presence, and not just for artists — the message left on the company’s voicemail, from president Glenn Hinman, simply states, “We do not have referrals for the unique style of printing we are known for … Thank you for being wonderful people. Have a good future.”
The Colby Printing Company began in 1948 as a neighborhood operation that promoted local happenings like street fairs, concerts, and political campaigns with eye-catching flyers. Then, in 1962, Ed Ruscha commissioned the company to create the announcement for his exhibition New Painting of Common Objects at the Pasadena Art Museum.
That image, with its heavy, sans-serif typeface and straight-faced announcement of a show that includes artists like Jim Dine, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol, is characteristic of the company’s creations, but it also seems to embody the Pop aspirations and strategies of the time, appropriating a vernacular form and recontextualizing it.
By providing a readymade style and an effective production strategy for posters, the company helped artists move beyond the gallery and reach out to the wider aesthetic world. Ruppersberg used the company to transcribe Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem “Howl” into phonetics while Cody Hudson used its hazy bands of color to evoke surreal states. Elsewhere in ForYourArt’s exhibition are displays drawn directly from the printer’s archive; examples of swap meet announcements, medical marijuana delivery ads, and carnival promotions abound.
Below, check out some more examples of artist-designed posters and the day-to-day signage that made Colby Poster Printing Company famous.
In the Good Name of the Company continues through March 23 at ForYourArt (6020 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles).
I won’t bother you with talk about how obscenely decadent and out of touch the Frieze art fair is. And yet…
Curators Tahnee Ahtone, La Tanya S. Autry, Frederica Simmons, Dan Cameron, and Jeremy Dennis offered the public a window into their curatorial processes through the work they produced during their fellowships.
Who says tragedy has to be tragic? Co-presented with National Black Theatre, this fresh, Pulitzer-winning take on a classic centers Black joy and liberation.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Jeremy Dennis presents an exhibition to offer insight into his curatorial process.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Dan Cameron presents an email exhibition to offer insight into his curatorial process.
For the triennial’s eighth edition, work by more than 70 artists is featured in 12 exhibitions and a polyphonic program, installed at various locations throughout the German city.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Frederica Simmons presents an email exhibition to offer insight into their curatorial process.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, La Tanya S. Autry presents an exhibition to offer insight into her curatorial process.
This exhibition explores the work and short-but-impactful life of the groundbreaking ceramic artist. Now on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Tahnee Ahtone presents an email exhibition to offer insight into her curatorial process.
This week: Why does the internet hate Amber Heard? Will Congress recognize the Palestinian Nakba? And other urgent questions.
Artist Dan Jian makes the point that landscapes and memory are one and the same.